Over the past several years, concerns have been raised about dental amalgam fillings, which contains approximately 50% mercury, a highly polluting neurotoxin. Countries around the world are phasing out the use of dental amalgam.
India too has decided to sign a global treaty, the Minamata Convention on Mercury to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. As an environmental organization Toxics Link has been working constantly with dental clinics, medical organizations and government to phase down amalgam use in India. In order to make India mercury free both dentist and people need to realize the hazardous effect of mercury on human health and environment.
Indian Railways: About 50% of railway hospitals have dental treatment facility. In these dental hospitals, mercury used in dental amalgam and measuring devices such as thermometers and blood pressure cuffs (sphygmomanometers, tensiometers) have been phased out and only few are kept for the standardization purpose alone, not for usage. There are nearly 50 dentists employed in the railways and most of them are mercury free dental practitioners. Overall, 80-90% amalgam usage has been phased out in dental sector.
Indian Army: Indian Army hospitals caters to a population over 10 million and has phased out dental amalgam completely.
Private Dental Clinics Chains: The private dental clinic chains like Clove Dental and My Dentist are mercury free. Together they account for more than 200 dental clinics across India. This sets an example for other dental clinics to eliminate the use of mercury and control the exposure to toxic materials. Although most of these dental clinics are in urban area and due to aesthetic reasons amalgam is avoided altogether.
Dental Council of India: Owing to continuous efforts by Toxics Link, Dental Council of India has agreed and taken positive steps towards reducing dental amalgam usage in the dental colleges by making necessary amendments in the dental undergraduate and post graduate syllabus. This marks the beginning of a new era of mercury free dentists who will be able to make better choices for themselves and for the patients.