A Welcome Change to the Global Mercury Treaty

by | Apr 25, 2022 | Mercury / Heavy Metals

the words good news in metal typeWith so much bad news in the world these days, it’s all the more satisfying when we get to share good news with you on this blog.

And now we get to share it two months in a row!

In fact, no sooner had we told you about how both of the major dental products manufacturers are no longer making or marketing the stuff, we learned that an amendment to the Minamata Convention on Mercury had been approved – a huge step forward toward a future in which mercury-free dentistry is the norm.

In case you’re not familiar with this global treaty, the Minamata Convention aims to reduce all uses of mercury for the sake of human and environmental health. First approved in 2013 and now signed by 128 out of 137 participating nations, the treaty includes provisions to limit the use of mercury in dentistry. Mercury is the dominant component of amalgam, the alloy used to create “silver” fillings – a material favored by many dentists for nearly 200 years now, as it’s cheap, easy to work with, and durable.

(That durability is hardly a benefit when it comes to human health, though. Mercury is released from those fillings with every bite and swallow, only to be inhaled and introduced to the bloodstream via the lungs, where it can be transported throughout the body, showing a particular affinity for the brain and other fatty organs. But we digress…)

Until now, the treaty’s dental provisions were fairly mild. But thanks to the efforts of all 54 African nations with the support of Consumers for Dental Choice, the provisions have…well, some teeth to them (if you’ll pardon the pun). The amendment they pushed through now requires nations to

“….Exclude or not allow, by taking measures as appropriate, or recommend against the use of dental amalgam for the dental treatment of deciduous teeth [baby teeth], of patients under 15 years and of pregnant and breastfeeding women….“

This amendment will go into effect on December 25, 2022.

Notably, the new provision is already the practice in the EU. It’s also in harmony with the revised guidance issued by the FDA back in 2020, which advises against placing amalgams in these groups, as well as those with certain pre-existing conditions or sensitivity to mercury or any other component in dental amalgam.

All together, those vulnerable groups make up roughly 60% of the US population, according to estimates provided by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT).

It’s funny: Just a few years ago, it was difficult to see anything changing much with respect to the use of amalgam in dentistry, even as more dental offices were stepping away from the material if only because of patient/consumer demand. Today, it actually looks like we could see a global phase-out within our lifetimes!

And that makes us prouder than ever to be among those offices that have been mercury-free – and mercury-SAFE – for years. There’s a reason they call what we do bio-LOGICAL dentistry…

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