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Published Date: Oct 20, 2013

Mercury: safe dental practice

IT is reported in some studies that numerous dental clinics and dental hospitals in Pakistan have staff that does not usually have professional education or training about dental amalgam used in operative dentistry and health hazards from mercury exposure.

Follow up the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) study on mercury contamination in air at dental sites in five cities of Pakistan, a recent review of the three sets of curriculum approved by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and University of Health Sciences (UHS), followed at dental teaching institutions in the country, has revealed absence of topics related to mercury exposure, environmentally-sound use of mercury/mercury amalgam and management of mercury wastes.

There is also a dire need to teach and train upcoming professional dentists in non-mercury-based dental fillings, encapsulated and mechanical mixing methodologies, besides health hazards to dental staff arising from prolonged and continuous mercury exposure.

It is most strongly recommended to the PMDC, HEC and UHS to review and revise their curriculum/syllabus for dental teaching institutions in
the country by including the above and other relevant topics for safeguarding public health with best possible service options and practices.

The Minamata Convention on mercury adopted by over 140 states and already signed by over 90 countries, including Pakistan, recently in Kumamoto, Japan, also encourages parties to phase down the use of dental
amalgam and encourage education and training to dental professionals and students on the use of mercury-free dental restoration alternatives and on promoting best management practices.