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WHO considers the end of amalgam


A report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has proposed that the use of amalgam in dentistry should be phased down rather than phased out. Future Use of Materials for Dental Restorations considers the impact of different dental filling materials on the patients and the dental industry. The report also suggest that there should be an improvement in the quality of alternative materials used for fillings, saying that this could directly affect whether the movement away from amalgam completely should go ahead.

Chair of the British Dental Association’s representative body, Stuart Johnston, pointed out that this was a very thoroughly researched report, which would add a new voice to the ongoing debate on the subject. Regarding amalgam fillings, he said; ‘Dentists find amalgam to be a stable material for fillings, with good handling properties. Expert toxicologists and medics have reported no evidence that it causes harm to patients. The alternative materials that are available are not so well proven and have their own disadvantages.

He went on to say that although there was a risk surrounding mercury emissions from amalgam, there were procedures to prevent them harming patients, and that he hoped the need for fillings would be much less in the future. Finally, he added; ‘In the meantime, it is important that the potential problems with, and likely impact of, any change in policy are fully considered by the experts and competent authorities who make decisions about the use of dental amalgam and other white filling materials.

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