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Public Health (08-05-2008)

EC scientific committees conclude: dental amalgams are effective and safe, both for patients and dental personnel

Safety of dental amalgams
The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) adopted a report on the safety of dental amalgams and alternative dental restoration materials for patients and users.
SCENIHR concluded that dental amalgams are 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. The current use of dental amalgams 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 released 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.
 
Environmental and Indirect health effects
The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) adopted a 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 of serious health effects. With regard to environmental risks of amalgam alternatives, the available information is too limited to conduct a proper comparative assessment.
 
Dissemination to general public and professionals
 
The scientific opinions are also available in summary documents that are easy to read and provide the general public with information to make informed choices on their health.
The Council of European Dentists (CED) endorses these scientific opinions and will disseminate the reports to the 300,000 dentists it represents across 30 countries.
 
The SCENIHR opinion:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_016.pdf
 
 
The SCHER opinion:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scher/docs/scher_o_089.pdf
 
The "layman summary" version of the two opinions is available:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/popularizing/popularizing_results_en.htm
http://copublications.greenfacts.org/en/index.htm .
 
Council of European Dentists
http://www.eudental.eu/index.php?ID=2757