BENIN CITY- A Senior lecturer in the department of Restorative Dentistry in the University of Benin, Dr. Joan Enabulele has called on the Federal Government to make funds available for the production of local dental materials, saying this will help in phasing down dental amalga which according to her, contain 50% elemental mercury. She said amalga is a liquid mercury and metal alloy mixture used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay in children under 16 years, pregnant and breast feeding women. The chemical is said to be injurious to health.

Dr. Joan said this when presenting a Keynote lecture at a stakeholders workshop on phase down of dental amalgam organised by the Sustainable Environment Development Initiative (SEDl), in Benin City. The workshop attracted major stakeholders from the health sector, media, civil societies, academia and students.

“Mercury is the problem with amalga; when amalga is being put in a patient’s mouth, mercury is released and it has negative health impart such as brain damage, and neurological problems, especially for children, infants and unborn babies”, she said.

Dr. Joan said resin base composit which is an imported alternative to amalga is very expensive, and so could be a discouraging factor to its use. She advised that if the composit must be used, there should be a policy put in place to make it cheap. She also advised that filling of children’s cavity be made free of charge. These to her, will discourage the use of amalga.

The Executive Director of SEDI, Dr. Tom Aneni, said mercury in any form is poisonous and that exposure to it could harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, cardiovascular and immune systems in women, unborn children and infants.

In a communique at the end of the workshop, the stakeholders advocated that phasing down amalga should become a government policy that should take effect from July 1 2018.