Posted in | Biomaterials

Expert Denounces Use of Mercury-Based Dental Amalgams

In an editorial published today in the February issue of the Journal of Dental Research, Derek Jones, Professor Emeritus of Biomaterials, Dalhousie University (Halifax, NS, Canada), and Chair of the International Standards Organization’s Technical Committee on Dentistry, denounces new Norwegian regulations governing the use of mercury that will adversely affect the use of dental amalgam not only in Norway, but also in other countries around the world that are contemplating taking similar action.

Says Jones, “For the past 20 years, the public has been bombarded by sensational, confusing, and misleading media reports about health issues related to dental amalgam. The public opinion on this issue has been modified by minority, non-scientific views driven and supported by media sensationalism. Mobilization of irrational public fear is the strategy used by lobby groups to pressure governments to change public policy. It is important that governments adhere to scientific principles and base health and environmental policies on sound scientific knowledge. Dentistry is an applied science and needs to bring issues such those dealing with dental amalgam to the attention of governments.”

Effective January 1, 2008, the Norwegian government now prohibits the production, importation, exportation, sale, and use of substances that contain mercury, including dental amalgam. In the editorial, the author contends that, at present, there is no conclusive evidence in the scientific literature to demonstrate a link between the cause of irreversible neurological disorders or of impaired kidney function and mercury vapors from dental amalgam. Further, although it is generally accepted that some 50% of mercury pollution comes from natural sources, the relative contribution from natural vs. anthropogenic mercury sources remains unclear, and the natural source may be considerably higher. Pollution from dentistry is insignificant compared with that from industrial use and natural sources. Clearly, the above information leads to the logical conclusion that banning "dental amalgam" is a political issue that will not only have no impact on total worldwide mercury pollution, but also removes a viable treatment option for dentists and their patients.

Deborah Greenspan (University of California-San Francisco), President of the International Association for Dental Research, co-publisher of the Journal of Dental Research, stated, “All policy decisions should be informed by evidence-based science, and we are pleased to provide a forum for this in the JDR.”

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