Mercury poisoning is posing a grave threat to healthall over the world and amalgam fillings are discovered to be one of the top contributing sources. HENRY TYOHEMBA writes.
Dentists have been using the mercury-laden dental amalgams for over 150 years in hundreds of millions of people around the world as a filling material used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay.
The effect of using this dental filling material however, is grave as it also releases low levels of mercury vapor, a chemical that at high exposure levels is well-documented to cause neurological and renal adverse effects in humans.
Research shows that every time a person with amalgam filling chews, the mercury within that filling is released into that person’s body. The mercury vapor is further transmitted throughout the body, easily crosses cell membranes and has significant toxic effects at much lower levels of exposure than other inorganic mercury forms.
According to a plethora of scientific data, these amalgam fillings percolate dangerous, toxic mercury into the bodies of everyone who has them and when they are accumulated for so long into once body, the more mercury you are likely to have in your body, thus posing a serious threat to human life.
In an interview with LEADERSHIP, a dentist specialist, Dr Leslie Adogame said despite the dangers, people continue to use dental amalgam as a restorative material for teeth decay that have been damaged is worthy of concern because of its ubiquity and confirmed adverse effects on human life, fish, wildlife, and the ecosystem. He said the issue of mercury in dental amalgam is now recognized to represent a global threat that can only be tackled through cooperation at international level.
He said: “Although mercury in dental amalgam is minimal, its continued use determined to be still worthy of concern because of the liquidity and confirmed adverse effect on human health, fish, wildlife and the ecosystem.”
He disclosed that amalgam, apart from the dangers is the most durable and most effective material in restoring careers teeth. According to him, that is the major reason why some dental professionals may, in a way find the phase down of regrettable. Adogame lamented that Nigeria remained one of the dumbing grounds for amalgam products in the world.
This is just as stakeholders in the environmental protection and health-related matters have called for an end in the use of dental amalgam in Nigeria. The stakeholders who were drawn from the Nigeria Dental Association, state Ministries of health, environment and sustainability and non-governmental organizations said that the material contained about 50 percent of mercury, a neurotoxin and pollutant harmful to humans and environment.
Speaking further on the negative impact of dental amalgam, the executive director of the sustainable Environment Development Initiative, Dr Tom Aneni said that women were exposed to the alloy through the environment, adding that such an exposure could be transferred during foetal development, through the placenta and to the nursing infant during breast feeding.
Calling for urgent steps to end the use of the material in children under the age of 16 and pregnant and breast feeding women in order to move Nigeria and Africa to a free Dental amalgam-free he said, “Amalgam exposures in the womb or early childhood may cause lifelong harm. Exposures during foetal development increase the risk of such harmful effects as preterm births, birth defects, childho0d and the adult diseases.”
The president of the World Alliance for Mercury-free Dentistry noted that limiting the use of the dental material in hospitals would gradually end the current opposition to the advocacy for a total ban.
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