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Mercury treaty offers dental amalgam options

January 19, 2013

By Craig Palmer, ADA News Staff

The Association commended the prevention focus of the international mercury treaty developed in Geneva Jan. 19 in a press statement.

The treaty, which has been under negotiation for four years, will be open for signature at a special meeting in Japan in October, according to the United Nations Environment Program.

“Caries, the disease that causes tooth decay, afflicts 90 percent of the world's population making this a global public health issue,” said Dr. Robert A. Faiella, president of the American Dental Association. “The ADA is gratified that the treaty conditions pertaining to dental amalgam protect this important treatment option without restrictions for our patients while balancing the need to protect the environment. It is vital for people throughout the world to continue to have access to a safe, durable, affordable treatment for tooth decay.”

Dental amalgam language in the treaty found at ANNEX C Part II: Products subject to Article 6, paragraph 2 states, “Measures to be taken by a Party to phase down the use of dental amalgam shall take into account the Party’s domestic circumstances and relevant international guidance, and shall include two or more of the measures from the following list:

  • setting national objectives aiming at dental caries prevention and health promotion thereby minimizing the need for dental restoration;
  • setting national objectives aiming at minimizing its use;
  • promoting the use of cost-effective and clinically effective mercury-free alternatives for dental restoration;
  • promoting research and development of quality mercury-free materials for dental restoration;
  • encouraging representative professional organizations and dental schools to educate and train dental professionals and students on the use of mercury-free dental restoration
  • alternatives and promoting best management practices;
  • discouraging insurance policies and programs that favor dental amalgam use over mercury-free dental restoration;
  • encouraging insurance policies and programs that favor the use of quality alternatives to dental amalgam for dental restoration;
  • restricting the use of dental amalgam to its encapsulated form;
  • promoting the use of best environmental practices in dental facilities to reduce releases of mercury and mercury compounds to water and land.”

An issues alert was sent to ADA members to update them on the treaty. Look for more updates on this story next week.