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The end of amalgam?

Tougher rules covering the use of mercury are being considered in the EU.

UM – 04/2021

For reasons of environmental and health protection, the EC intends to ban the use of dental amalgam. It should no longer be in use by 2030. In doing so, it aims to contribute to the further implementation of the global agreement on mercury, the United Nations Minamata Convention, which requires the use of mercury and mercury emissions to be reduced as far as possible. 

On 5th March, it presented an impact assessment about revising the Mercury Regulation and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1102/2008 . This is based on a study from June of last year that supports the phasing out of dental care that uses amalgam in fillings as being feasible by 2030. In this context, the Commission presents different options for discussion covering the phasing out over different periods of time and exceptions related to specific patient groups or special medical aspects.

Environmental goals will be achieved

German Social Insurance fully supports the environmental policy objectives associated with the legal amendment. Nevertheless, during the consultation process, it advocated a more moderate approach. In Germany, dental amalgam is now only being used in encapsulated and pre-dosed form. Amalgam separators are also used to retain and collect amalgam particles to prevent mercury from entering the environment. This handling of amalgam is considered safe.

Amalgam is not a ticking bomb

The material has also been intensively studied with regard to its effect on health. It has been shown to be toxicologically safe. The discussion in the 1990s about "time bombs in the mouth" has largely calmed down.

A complete ban is unnecessary

Oral health in Germany has improved considerably over the last 30 years. This is also reflected in the fact that more than 40 percent fewer fillings being used today. Patients are increasingly asking for the more inconspicuous plastic fillings. The result of this is that the use of dental amalgam in German dental practices is declining sharply. However, there are some indications that using amalgam as a filling material has a superior benefit when compared to alternative treatments. It is also resistant and durable. A complete abandonment of dental amalgam would mean giving up these advantages.