Dental Assoc says amalgam fillings safe as dentist urges NZ to follow EU ban

The New Zealand Dental Association says amalgam fillings are safe despite a dentist urging this country to follow the EU and ban the use of amalgam fillings for children and pregnant or breast-feeding women.

Source: 1 NEWS

The EU is to ban the use of amalgam fillings in children and pregnant or breast-feeding women from July this year.

The EU's move is part of a global treaty to phase out the use of mercury due to its toxicity.

Auckland-based dentist Hisham Abdalla told RNZ concerns about amalgam mercury fillings were not new and ending its use needed to be seriously considered by the government.

"It is toxic and we're told to put it in. Why is it toxic when it is outside the mouth, or goes into the waterways or the fish or whatever, but when we put it inside the mouth it is safe?" Dr Abdalla told RNZ.

The New Zealand Dental Association, approached by 1 NEWS for it's stance, has stood by its March 2017 Position Statement on Dental Amalgam in which it affirms the safety of dental amalgam as a filling material.

"Dental amalgam is a safe and durable material that has been used by dentists to restore teeth for well over 100 years," the statement reads.

Amalgam is a mixture of metals including silver, copper and tin to which mercury is added, it explains. 

"Scientific studies have shown that very small amounts of mercury are released from an amalgam filling during placement and removal, and over the whole life of that filling.

"No scientific studies have demonstrated evidence linking amalgam fillings with chronic degenerative diseases, kidney disease, autoimmune disease, cognitive function disorders, adverse pregnancy outcomes, or any non-specific general health related symptoms."

There have been a very small number of reported cases of localised mucosal changes attributed to all filling materials, including dental amalgam, the statement continues.

The NZDA says it supports the New Zealand Ministry of Health precautionary principal that it is prudent during pregnancy to avoid elective dental procedures, including the placement or removal of any filling material, where reasonable.

It says Mercury, in its elemental form, which is not the same form as a completed dental filling, is considered an environmental hazard and dentists must adhere to strict guidelines regarding the management and disposal of dental amalgam.

The NZDA says it supports continued research into the safety of all dental materials, including amalgam.