New mercury restrictions don’t mean amalgam fillings need replacing, the Dental Defence Union (DDU) has warned.
EU regulations that came into effect on the 1 July mean amalgam should now only be used for fillings when deemed ‘strictly necessary’.
The DDU has warned that dental professionals may now be approached by patients looking to remove their mercury fillings.
‘More than 80% of the population has at least one filling so it’s likely that mercury amalgam will be present in the mouths of most people,’ David Lauder, DDU dento-legal adviser, said.
‘The material has been used effectively for more than 150 years, and the new restrictions do not mean amalgam fillings need to be replaced.
‘However, due to the publicity surrounding the new regulations, more patients may ask about the safety of existing amalgam fillings and request they are replaced as a precaution.
‘Fortunately there are modern alternatives to dental amalgam readily available but dentists need to consider if replacing old fillings would be in the patient’s best interests.
‘Dentists should try to reassure the patient about the long-term safety of dental amalgam and the risks involved in replacing fillings, before making a detailed note of these discussions in the dental records.
‘If necessary, recommend the patient seeks a second opinion.
‘All treatment should be in the patient’s best interest and in line with current accepted practice and teaching as would be supported by a responsible body of dental opinion.’
Amalgam scale down
The British Dental Association (BDA) has called for further investment to support the scale down in dental amalgam.
Whilst supporting an environmentally-responsible phase down of amalgam in dental restorations, the association has called for further investment into research and development on different materials to amalgam.
‘Individual dentists are best placed to make clinical decisions on the most appropriate materials to use to restore damaged or decayed teeth in the best interests of each patient, and that includes amalgam,’ BDA chair, Mick Armstrong, said.
‘There are well recognised situations where amalgam restorations may be preferable, if not the only realistic solution to ensure long lasting and durable solutions for our patients.
‘UK Governments need to develop proper, funded strategies for prevention, especially in England and Northern Ireland, to deliver the scale of phase down required.’
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