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 has ratified Minamata Convention through the establishment of Law No. 11 in 2017. In regards to the health sector, the Indonesian Minister of Health Decree No. 57 in 2016 sets out list of targets to eliminate or reduce the use of mercury in the health sector.

One of the uses of mercury in the health sector is in dentistry, used as dental fillings/dental amalgam. Dental amalgam fillings are 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 vapor in non-industrialized settings, exposing the concerned population to mercury levels significantly exceeding those set for food and for air.

We conducted a 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 of using mercury dental fillings. However, most of the respondents (88%) were supporting phasing out mercury dental fillings. 

The Ministry of Health decree sets a target to phase out mercury dental amalgam in 2020. 

The latest Conference of Parties (COP) 4.2 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury held in Bali agreed that parties shall not allow or recommend against the use of mercury-based dental amalgam in deciduous teeth, children under 15, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.