Health

Dentistry: Southeast stakeholders issue serious caution on Dental Amalgam

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ENUGU, Nigeria – As countries around the world continue campaign against the use of Amalgam for Dentistry, South-East stakeholders have kicked-off a three-year programme for its total phase out.

This formed part of the resolution at a summit organized by the Sustainable Environment Development Initiative (SEDI Nigeria) under the auspices of World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, on “Phase-down of Dental Amalgam Use in the zone.”

OgeneAfrican reports that the summit, held in Enugu, brought together over 67 participants drawn from Government, Dental practitioners, Dental students, Dental surgery technicians, Academia, Media, civil society groups, among others.

They deliberated on issues bothering on the phasing down of the use of dental amalgam in the South East region.

In a communique issued after the meeting, signed by participants observed that “Mercury is a chemical of global concern owing to its long range atmospheric transport, its persistence in the environment once anthropogenically introduced and its ability to bio-accumulate in ecosystems.”

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They noted among many other things:

“Exposure to mercury can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, cardiovascular system and immune system, particularly in women, unborn children and infants. Developing organs are the most sensitive.

“Concerned about the increasing number of non-communicable diseases known to be related to

amalgam exposures (such as cancer, neurological diseases, cognitive & neuro-developmental

disorders, reproductive disorders, etc.)

“Nigeria has signed the Minamata Treaty and has ratified the convention which entered into force on 15th August, 2017. Nigeria is the 88th party.

“The Federal Ministry of Health is reviewing the National Policy on phase down of dental amalgam and has developed a draft phase down roadmap for Nigeria.

“Low level of awareness among Nigerians on the dangers of mercury in dental amalgam.

“Dental amalgam is still widely used and is the most affordable dental filling material serving the restorative health needs of Nigerians.

“Alternative direct restorative materials such as composites, compomers, glass ionomer cements ceromers ormocers amalgomers and giomers can be used for restoration of carious and non-carious cavities involving anterior and posterior teeth based on specific selection criteria and indications.

“Recognized the role played by the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigerian Dental Association (NDA), Non-governmental organizations, Dental practitioners, Media and other stakeholders in addressing the dangers of mercury in amalgam and seeking alternatives.

“Amalgam separators were recommended but has a lot of disadvantages and so has been rejected; Need for more funding on research for alternatives to amalgam; Need for entrepreneur to engage in local production of alternative dental restorative materials; Potential toll of the transition on dental practice include initial patient’s confusion and disorientation, dentist’s practice readjustment, dental school’s curriculum change’ etc.”

They recommended that “In compliance with the provisions of the Minamata convention, government should initiate a coordinated multi-sectoral approach for an effective phase down of use of dental amalgam in Nigeria.

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“Dental faculties should be the focal point for mercury amalgam phase down efforts; Updating dental schools training curriculum to emphasize mercury-free dentistry.

“Implementation of a phase down work plan. This must also include legislative review and development of guidelines, gathering baseline data and developing the national overview; Promote training and research on alternative dental restorative materials; Promote subsidies and tax regimes that favour alternative dental restorative materials.

“Engaging the public and media as well as other stakeholders in awareness creation on the health impacts of mercury in dental amalgam and the need for prevention of caries.

“Enhancing tools and mobilizing funds for training and capacity building on minimum intervention dentistry; Behavioural change activities should be implemented encouraging the participation of all key players.”

They further called “for the end of dental amalgam use in children under 16, pregnant and breastfeeding women by December 2020 and amalgam phase out by 2022.

“We urge the South East State governments’ and other stakeholders to implement a phase down in government dental clinics in view of the fact that the minamata convention is already in implementation.”

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