Mercury-Free Dentistry

Mercury is used in several sectors, which have been identified and regulated to phase out/down accordingly to Minamata Convention on Mercury. Indonesia have ratified Minamata Convention through the establishment of Law No. 11 in 2017. In regards to health sector, Indonesian Minister of Health Decree No. 57 in 2016 sets out lists of target to eliminate or reduce the use of mercury in health sector.

One of the use of mercury in health sector is in dentistry, used as dental fillings/dental amalgam. Dental amalgam fillings is the most commonly used dental filling material. It is a mixture of mercury and a metal alloy. The normal composition is 45-55% mercury; approximately 30% silver and other metals such as copper, tin and zinc. In 1991, the World Health Organization confirmed that mercury contained in dental amalgam is the greatest source of mercury vapour in non-industrialized settings, exposing the concerned population to mercury levels significantly exceeding those set for food and for air.

We conducted preliminary survey in 2016 for dentistry practitioner about their awareness of mercury amalgam fillings, which shows only 58% was aware of the health impacts of mercury dental fillings, while 66% of them also agreed on the unsafe working environment by using mercury dental fillings. However, most of the respondents (88%) were supporting phasing out of mercury dental fillings. 

The minister of health decree sets target to phase out mercury dental amalgam in 2020.