Dentists on Saturday declared to phase out mercury amalgam in dental treatment of pregnant women, mothers and children by June.
Bangladesh Dental Society made the announcement at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.
‘As mercury poses serious threat to health and environment, we are declaring not to use the element in dentistry’, said BDS secretary general Humayun Kabir Bulbul while reading out the declaration.
On behalf of the professional body, he urged all dentists across the country not to use mercury in dental treatment any more.
Though banned in many countries, mercury is still used in dental treatment, especially as dental amalgam, to fill tooth decay.
Amalgam fillings are a mixture of metals, consisting of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper.
Mercury is a known neurotoxin that can harm humans, especially children, pregnant women, lactating mother and fetuses, damaging brain, kidney and other body organs.
Furthermore, the use of dental amalgam results in substantial quantities of toxic mercury to be released into the environment.
Once in the environment, mercury pollution causes damage to animals, plants, and the entire ecosystem.
Bangladesh is a signatory country of Minamata Convention On Mercury, an international treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.
BDS president Abul Kashem said that while many countries have already disallowed mercury amalgam, we, the people of Bangladesh, were far behind.
‘In order to protect our future, the use of mercury in dental treatment has to be prohibited right now,’ he said.
Kashem said that the mercury phasing out process begins with the treatment of women and children, but use of this toxin would be eliminated in the treatment of others gradually.
There are alternatives to mercury amalgam in dental treatment. ‘Glass ionomer cement filling and light cure composite filling are among the best options against mercury amalgam,’ Kashem said in response to a question.
‘This alternative treatment costs from Tk 1,000 to 5,000, but since mercury amalgam is slightly less costly, the quacks tend to choose it vastly to treat people unaware of the risks of mercury amalgams, he said.
There are about 10,000 registered dentists and 60,000 quacks or unregistered dentists in the country, according to BDS officials.
Environment and Social Development Organization, a non-government organisation working against mercury use, endorsed the move made by the BDS.
Speaking at the press conference, ESDO chairman Syed Marghub Murshed said the government should pay much attention to introduce regulations to stop mercury amalgam in dental treatment.
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