Amalgam in children and pregnant women only in absolute exceptional cases
In the past decades, holes in the teeth of millions of people in Europe have been filled with the mercury-containing substance amalgam. However, a new EU regulation now stipulates that dentists should only use this material in children and pregnant women in absolutely exceptional cases.
Dental fillings with amalgam
For decades, holes in the teeth were filled with amalgam. But then there was evidence that this material could harm health. Since then, patients have been wondering what to do with their amalgam fillings. Sometimes it is advised - especially if you have a known amalgam allergy - to have the filling replaced. However, there are also experts who think they can stay in the mouth, because it is not scientifically proven whether or how much this material is harmful to health. However, the use of amalgam will be reduced in the future.
Only in absolute exceptional cases
According to a message from the dpa news agency, an EU regulation stipulates that dentists should only use the mercury-containing filler amalgam in children and pregnant women from July 1st in absolute exceptions.
As the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Dentists (KZBV) explained in advance, the consequence was that an alternative filling material had to be selected regularly for those insured under the age of 15 and for pregnant and lactating women.
"The insured person must always be able to opt for a co-payment free of charge," says the agency report.
According to the information, instead of amalgam in the area of the posterior teeth, for example, a plastic filling can be used, such as was previously used for amalgam allergy sufferers.
An existing special regulation for amalgam allergy sufferers was expanded and a new billing number was created. In the future, the dentist would have to check which material he could use on a case-by-case basis.
According to experts, the use of amalgam in Germany has been declining for years, mainly because patients prefer tooth-colored fillings instead of metallic amalgam fillings.
Curb mercury usage
The Bundeszahnärztekammer wrote in a position paper from 2017 that the new EU regulations correspond to a large extent to the legal situation applicable in Germany.
However, there is no data on how often amalgam is actually used. According to KZBV estimates, amalgam fillings account for around 30 percent of the total inventory of all existing fillings.
According to the dpa, the EU is pursuing the goal of curbing the use of mercury. Amalgam fillings for patients would be considered harmless, but critics point in particular to health risks in the processing, disposal and burning of the deceased in crematoriums.
Mercury can enter the food chain via the atmosphere and ultimately accumulate in the body.
Health risks from mercury
In adults, mercury poisoning can lead to kidney, liver, and nerve damage, among other things.
But there are even more possible health risks from the heavy metal.
It is suspected to increase the risk of heart attack and Alzheimer's. An increased cancer risk from mercury is also assumed.
Mercury is one of the ten most dangerous environmental toxins, which are listed in the poison report by the Swiss environmental organization Green Cross and the organization Pure Earth from New York.
"140 countries signed the Minamata Convention (Mercury Convention) in October 2013 to curb the emissions of the heavy metal mercury," says a statement. (ad)