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Public Health (14-01-2008)

Commission launches consultation processes on dental amalgam and alternative dental restoration materials

The European Commission launched today consultation processes on two scientific opinions on dental amalgam and alternatives. The two consultations will run until February 22, 2008.
 
Safety of dental amalgam
On November 29, 2007 the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) adopted a preliminary report on the safety of dental amalgam and alternative dental restoration materials for patients and users.
SCENIHR concluded that dental amalgam is an effective restorative material and may be considered the material of choice for some restorations. While some local adverse effects are seen, the incidence is low and usually readily managed. However, the current use of dental amalgam does not pose a risk to health apart from allergic reactions. The main exposure to mercury in individuals with amalgam restorations occurs during the placement or removal of fillings. There is no clinical justification for removing clinically satisfactory amalgam restorations, except in patients allergic to amalgam constituents. The mercury release during placement and removal also results in exposure of the dental personnel. However, this may be minimized by the use of appropriate clinical techniques.
According to SCENIHR, alternative materials are not without clinical limitations and toxicological hazards. Allergies to some of these substances have been reported, both in patients and in dental personnel. Available scientific data concerning exposure to these substances are limited. The use of these substances has revealed little evidence of clinically significant adverse events.
Overall, SCENIHR concluded that dental health can be adequately ensured by both types of material. All materials are considered safe to use and they are all associated with very low rates of local adverse effects with no evidence of systemic disease.
 
Indirect health effects
On November 29, 2007 the Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) adopted a preliminary report on the environmental risks and indirect health effects of mercury in dental amalgam.
SCHER concluded that environmental risks and indirect exposure of humans to methylmercury (from emissions due to use of dental amalgam) are much lower than tolerable limits indicating a low risk for serious health effects. However, existing information is too limited to assess the environmental risks and indirect health effects from use of mercury in dental amalgam. Methylmercury is the most toxic type of mercury.
SCHER also concluded that on the environmental risk, the available information on toxic effects of alternatives is too limited for conducting a proper comparative assessment of amalgam and its alternatives.
 
 
Both preliminary reports are published on the web and stakeholders are invited to comment through an online consultation aiming to gather feedback on SCENIHR's and SCHER's scientific findings.
 
 
For more information on the SCENIHR opinion, and the online consultation, please visit:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/scenihr_cons_07_en.htm
 
For more information on the SCHER opinion, and the online consultation, please visit:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scher/scher_cons_02_en.htm