Holistic Dentistry Blog
European Commission Updates Its Position on Dental Amalgam
In May 2015, the European Commission updated its 2008 position on the use of dental amalgam, now conceding that there are certain cases where it should not be placed, highlighting pregnancy, primary teeth, mercury allergies and renal clearance.
The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) is the European Commission’s expert body on new and emerging risks.
In 2008, SCENIHR carried out a review of the safety and performance of both dental amalgam and its alternatives. Alternatives to dental amalgams are ‘white fillings’ such as composite resins, glass ionomer cements, ceramics and gold alloys. As part of this review, the SCENIHR considered the links between the amalgam and the alternatives with any detrimental health effects. Despite the mounting scientific evidence (as I have discussed at length in my blog) linking amalgam fillings with various ill-effects including neurodegenerative, autoimmune and digestive system diseases, the SCENIHR concluded in 2008 that;
“Dental health can be adequately ensured by both types of material. All the 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.”
This 2008 opinion was widely criticised, not least by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), whose membership is made up only of scientists, medical doctors and dentists. The IAOMT responded to the opinion with its own 43-page report highlighting the deficiencies of the SCENIHR report and its failure to acknowledge the most prestigious professionals who researched potential amalgam toxicity, including Prof. Boyd Haley, Prof. H.V. Aposhian, Prof. M Vimy, F. Lorscheider, A. Summers, G. Richardson and J. Pleva and M. Hansen. “This”, The IAOMT state, “is equivalent to writing a history of space exploration but not mentioning NASA or the moon landings.”
“In spite of its long usage, accumulated scientific evidence now clearly shows that dental amalgam (silver-mercury fillings) expose dentists, dental staff, members and dental patients to substantial amounts of mercury vapour, particulate and other forms. Chronic exposure to mercury, even in minute amounts, is known to be toxic and poses risks to human health, we must therefore conclude that dental amalgam is not suitable material for dental restorations.”
The 2013 Minamta Convention on Mercury
In 1956, Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata city. It was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from a large chemical factory from 1932 to 1968. This methylmercury was accumulated in the sea life which was in turn eaten by the locals. The people in this area suffered horrific neurological effects as a result of mercury poisoning.
In 2013, a global treaty, the Minamata Convention on Mercury was agreed. Its objectives are “to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds”. This essentially has translated into an overall commitment to the reduction of mercury pollution.
2015: The SCENIHR Updates its Opinion on Dental Amalgam
It took until May 2015, for the SCENIHR to update its Opinion on Dental Amalgam. The latest report aligns more closely with the Minamata Convention on Mercury. In it they concede that mercury in amalgam fillings should not be used in certain cases. These cases are as follows;
- In primary teeth
- If the patient is allergic to mercury
- If the patient has impaired renal clearance (kidney clearance).
However despite these small (and frankly common sense) concessions, the SCENIHR maintain that “current evidence does not preclude the use of either amalgam or alternative materials in dental restorative treatment”.
While this updated opinion by the European Commission’s SCENIHR is only a small step in the right direction, it does at least represent progression on the subject. However, my stance remains wholly against the use of dental amalgam in any patient, particularly when perfectly safe and effective ‘white filling’ alternatives are readily available.