African governments, dentists, and consumers are increasingly turning against the use of dental amalgam, the highly controversial dental fillings material that is 50% mercury.
In 2006, Dr. Myron Wentz authored A Mouth Full of Poison, a book condemning toxic mercury-based dental amalgam and calling for an end to its use. His subsequent economic successes as founder of USANA Health Sciences have permitted him to transform this idea into action: he has fully funded the African campaign of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry for the last four years.
Charles G. Brown, president of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, said: “Because of Dr. Wentz’s support, the campaign for mercury-free dentistry has active campaigns in 20 African countries, with an excellent and energetic nonprofit environmental group partner in each. Many countries have ended amalgam in selected uses, such as in children, the military, and private hospitals, and should soon be following Tanzania which has issued a complete phase-out timeline. Dental school curriculum updates emphasising alternatives to amalgam have occurred across the continent. And this year we expanded into Portuguese-speaking countries and into the key nations of Egypt and South Africa.”
The African continent has united at the international level, proposing an amendment to the Minamata Convention on Mercury that calls for a four-step phase-out in the use of dental amalgam worldwide. The African Amalgam Amendment will be the subject of hot debate at the upcoming 4th Conference of the Parties in Indonesia in March 2022.
In Nigeria, the Nigerian Dental Association (NDA) has adopted dates between 2022 and 2024 for the phasing out of dental amalgam in the country.
At its 54th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held from November 20 to 21, 2020 in Lagos, the dentists adopted January 31, 2022 for phasing out of amalgam among vulnerable population (children and pregnant women), and December 31, 2024 for total phase out of dental Amalgam use from dental practice in Nigeria among all categories of dental patients.
Dr Leslie Adogame, National coordinator, World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry (WAMFD) Nigeria, stated: “The endorsement for amalgam phase out by 2024 for Nigeria populations is a win-win for all Nigerians, for dentists as well as for populations (children, pregnant women, breast feeding mothers and adults) seeking dental care, because amalgam use is history since 2017. Even the dental practitioners are more at risk of mercury amalgam contamination.”
Dr. Wentz stated: “I am proud to have played a role in transforming an idea into reality to the enormous benefit of the African people and their next generation of children.”
Consisting a mixture of metals including mercury, dental amalgam is a dental filling material used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay. Mercury-laden fillings are said to cause a range of health challenges such as insomnia, headaches, nerve damage, kidney problems, and respiratory failure.