Press release: more than 100 organisations demand a ban on amalgam fillings in Germany

05 June 2019

World Environment Day

A group of activists came to the Ministry of Health to present a call from more than 100 organisations to Health Minister Jens Spahn. They are calling on him to agree to a general ban on amalgam fillings, thereby joining the example of Sweden and Norway.

Due to a European environmental protection regulation for the reduction of mercury emissions the Federal Government must take position at present. It is to submit a plan by 1 July 2019 on how it intends to further reduce the use of amalgam after the ban for children and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Mercury from amalgam fillings (more than 50% per filling) accounts for by far the most consumption of the highly toxic heavy metal in Europe.

Florian Schulze, Managing Director of the Interest Group for Environmental Dentistry, said: “More than 100 organisations worldwide are calling on the Federal Government to lead by example. In Germany, too, mercury has accumulated strongly in the environment, so that there are no more waters that comply with the environmental guideline values. Amalgam fillings also contribute to this. The many amalgam-free dentists in Germany show that they are no longer dependent on this material. It is superfluous and harmful, but is still permitted due to financial interests, but the costs for alternative fillings are even lower if all factors are taken into account. We ask Jens Spahn to set an example for progress and modern dentistry”.

Martina Heimann from the self-help group of Amalgam-victims said: “I cannot understand why amalgam is still allowed at all. A filling material that has to be disposed of as hazardous waste and causes extensive damage to the environment also poses a clear risk to health. Amalgam is already forbidden for children and pregnant women. Why should this regulation not also be implemented for other people? From 2020, most other products containing mercury such as batteries, lamps or thermometers will also be banned. This should be decided for amalgam, too. Especially since there are enough alternative possibilities.”

On behalf of Health Minister Jens Spahn, Andreas Brandhorst, Head of Department for Contract Dental Care at the Federal Ministry of Health, accepted the appeal and assured that he would take the demands very seriously and take the arguments into account when making a decision.

Photo: Moritz Bauer (Florian Schulze hands over the call of over 100 organisations to Andreas Brandhorst, who accepts it on behalf of Jens Spahn)

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Abstract from the open Letter

As the European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) explains, mercury-free dental fillings “have facilitated aradical change in the concept of restorative dentistry through the introduction of more minimally invasive techniques and the associated retention of more tooth substance when treating caries.” This trend – away from amalgam placement that requires the removal of excessive tooth tissue and toward mercury-free fillings that preserve more tooth structure – is good for both oral health and the environment.

Mercury-free dental fillings have been developed and studied for over fifty years. With technological advances over the past decade, their performance has improved as their costs have declined. Today, a wide variety of mercury-free fillings – ranging from composites to compomers to glass ionomers – are available to accommodate every clinical situation.

These mercury-free fillings offer many advantages that make them more affordable –and more effective – than dental amalgam. For example, with amalgam come these negatives: environmental pollution, damaged tooth structure, and more challenging repairs – all factors that contribute to the high cost of amalgam. With mercury-free filling fillings come these positives: safer for the environment, preserve more tooth structure, and easier to repair – all factors that make them less societally expensive than amalgam. Since the material costs are about the same, and properly trained dentists can place composite as fast as amalgam, and the longevity of composites and amalgam is now the same, the most cost-effective way forward is to phase out amalgam use.