Dental amalgam: new regulations from 1 July 2018
15 June 2018
The BDA is alerting dentists that from 1 July 2018, UK law states that dental amalgam should not be used in the treatment of deciduous teeth, in children under 15 years-old, and in pregnant or breastfeeding women, except when deemed strictly necessary by a dentist based on the specific medical needs of the patient.
The law has been passed on the basis of environmental concerns about mercury pollution, and does not reflect any evidence-based concerns about adverse effects of amalgam on human health.
What you need to do - new dental amalgam regulations
What is the BDA doing about the use of dental amalgam?
We have been lobbying at the European Union level and globally for over 10 years regarding the move towards phasing down the use of dental amalgam.
Several EU countries called for a blanket ban on using dental amalgam when the EU Mercury Regulation was debated. We pushed for a slower phase down, arguing that it was neither practical for UK dentists, nor necessarily in the best interests of patients, to implement an immediate ban.
We strongly argued the case that it should be up to dental practitioners to recommend the best restorative option for their patients on a case by case basis.
The wording of the new regulation leaves scope for dentists to exercise clinical judgement and we are pleased that the concerns of UK dentists were taken into account.
What is the impact on dentists?
We know that many practitioners are concerned about the increased time required and extra costs of using other restorative materials, particularly those who are working under a NHS or Health Service contracts.
We are pressing the devolved Government departments to address these concerns, and we are arguing for a workable solution to ensure dental practitioners are not left out of pocket.
In England, we have asked for a meeting with NHS England and are awaiting a response, and we are doing similiar lobbying work in Wales.
In Northern Ireland four new fees for the provision of non-amalgam fillings for under 15-year-olds and pregnant/breastfeeding women have been agreed. GDS activity in relation to these new fees will be monitored and BDA Northern Ireland will continue to engage with the Department of Health as these are reviewed.
The Scottish Government has introduced relevant fees for children under 15-years-old with a review of the fees in 12 months-time, and BDA Scotland will continue to monitor the situation.
What will happen next?
From 1 January 2019, dental amalgam must be used only in pre-dosed encapsulated form and amalgam separators will be mandatory. We believe most, if not all, dental practices in the UK already conform to this under existing compliance requirements, so no action will be needed.
By 1 July 2019, the UK must have a national plan in place to outline their intended measures to reduce dental amalgam use.
We have asked the Chief Dental Officers to keep us updated on how they intend to move forward with this, and we will continue to make the case that dentists need a workable dental contract, one that rewards prevention, and ensures both patients get the treatment they need and dentists are fairly remunerated.
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The usage of dental amalgam is just one of the issues we campaign on to both safeguard and improve working terms and conditions for dentists.
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