08 Nov 2022
The Dental Board of Australia has published a position statement on the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The position statement is available on the Board’s website.
The convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Australia is a party to the treaty, and under recent amendments needs to ensure that:
The Board’s position statement provides practitioners with information about the convention including actions dental practitioners can take to phase-down the use of dental amalgam. It outlines that the Board expects practitioners to practise in alignment with the convention.
The position statement was developed with input and support from stakeholders.
Dental practitioners can still use dental amalgam, but it is not recommended for dental treatment of deciduous teeth, of patients under 15 years and of pregnant and breastfeeding women, except when considered necessary by the dental practitioner based on the needs to the patient. The convention requires dental practitioners to not use mercury in bulk form.
Under the Board’s Code of conduct, practitioners need to consider the balance of potential benefit and harm in all clinical management decisions. The Code of conduct continues to be the Board’s main regulatory instrument for evaluating practitioner conduct.
The position statement does not alter the regulatory expectations of dental practitioners as set out in the Board’s registration standards, codes and guidelines.
Dr Murray Thomas, Board Chair, stated that 'the convention reflects the way that dental practitioners already practice in Australia. Under the Board’s Code of conduct, practitioners must weigh up the benefits and harms of clinical management decisions. This extends to the use of amalgam in the patient groups outlined under the convention. There is still a place for the use of amalgam, and public safety is ensured when practitioners follow the code and use their professional judgment to decide when it is appropriate, based on the needs of a patient.'
You can read the position statement on the Board’s website.