Mercury and dentistry

What is dental amalgam?

Dental amalgam is a silver-coloured mercury-containing product with which many people may be familiar. Amalgam, also known as 'silver fillings', were once commonly used by dentists to fill cavities in teeth. They are a combination of approximately equal amounts of elemental mercury and alloy powder, which contains other metals such as silver, tin, copper, and zinc. Mercury is used to bind the other compounds of dental amalgam together to form a hard, stable restorative material.

In 2010, Environment and Climate Change Canada published a Dental amalgam waste (mercury): pollution prevention planning notice. It applied to dental facilities that had not implemented the best management practices set out in a Canada-wide standard on mercury for dental amalgam waste. A pollution prevention planning notice (P2 notice) is a risk management instrument introduced in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in 1999 that is used to reduce pollution in order to protect the environment and human health from toxic substances.

Consult the Health Canada Position Statement on Dental Amalgam for more information.

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