Statement by Robert A. Faiella, DMD, MMSc, President, American Dental Association
CHICAGO, Jan. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Dental Association (ADA) is very pleased by the agreed upon provisions related to dental amalgam included in the United Nations Environment Program proposed mercury treaty. Delegates from more than 130 countries gathered in Geneva to develop the global treaty aimed at limiting emissions.
Burning of coal is the largest single manmade source of mercury in the environment. The treaty also considered a number of other sources such as small-scale gold mining and the Chlor-alkali sector. Five products were also discussed, including dental amalgam which is used to treat cavities. Dental office best management practices established by the ADA can prevent up to 99 percent of waste amalgam from entering the environment.Caries, the disease that causes tooth decay, afflicts 90 percent of the world's population making this a global public health issue. 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. The ADA is also delighted that the proposed treaty recognizes the need for national programs to prevent oral disease and calls for more research into developing new treatment options. Long term, it is critically important to raise global awareness of the importance of oral health to overall health, including how to prevent dental diseases. Doing so decreases the need for all cavity-filling and other restorative materials, including dental amalgam. Made by combining metals such as silver, copper, tin and zinc with elemental mercury, dental amalgam has entirely different physical and chemical properties than mercury alone. Amalgam has been used safely and effectively for generations to treat tooth decay. Gold and tooth colored materials are also available, and dental amalgam use has declined considerably over the past few decades; however tooth-colored materials can be less durable, more costly and in some clinical situations not as ideal as dental amalgam.