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WHO states that even the smallest amount of amalgam is health damaging- Dr. Sukhmeet

WHO states that even the smallest amount of amalgam is health damaging- Dr. Sukhmeet

What is dental amalgam ?

Picture of a dental amagam embedded in a toothDental amalgam is a dental filling material used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay. It has been used for more than 150 years in hundreds of millions of patients around the world.

Dental amalgam is a mixture of metals, consisting of liquid (elemental) mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper. Approximately 50% of dental amalgam is elemental mercury by weight.  The chemical properties of elemental mercury allow it to react with and bind together the silver/copper/tin alloy particles to form an amalgam.

Dental amalgam fillings are also known as “silver fillings” because of their silver-like appearance.  Despite the name, “silver fillings” do contain elemental mercury.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers mercury as one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern. Mercury is used in various industries, dentistry being one of the largest. Dental amalgam alloys are 50 per cent mercury, posing a threat to human health and the environment. The material is often used in poorer countries, such as India, since it is considered to be cheaper than alternatives.

According to WHO, even the smallest amount of mercury is damaging to health, exerting toxic effects on the immune, nervous and digestive systems, as well as on the skin, eyes, lungs and kidneys. It also has devastating consequences for environment. Mercury emissions contaminating the air, ground and water are due to the whole life cycle of dental amalgam, including mercury production, preparation of amalgam, removal of old fillings and placement of new ones, environmental and health effects from mercury recycling, discharges to wastewater, solid waste disposal, and releases from cremation and burial of people with amalgam fillings. Furthermore, mercury biomagnifies and remains in the environment for long periods. Owing to concerns regarding the continued release of mercury into the environment from human activity, the Minamata Convention on Mercury was adopted in 2013 to oblige government parties to address mercury emissions and to phase out certain mercury-containing products, such as dental amalgam, among other actions.
Furthermore, placing amalgam requires substantial removal of sound tooth structure, and owing to the material’s composition, such fillings can expand and contract in the tooth, possibly resulting in cracks. Hence, mercury-free alternatives are essential

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