The dental amalgam waste is an integral part of any dental
practice as amalgam is a commonly accepted dental filling.
According to its historical background dentists started using
it as a dental filling more than a century ago. This worldwide
accepted amalgam comprises mercury as a base and one or several
other metals. Such unique structure gives this dental practice
a lot of positive characteristics. The attractiveness of the
dental amalgam for the dentistry is obvious due to the fact
that it does not have a high cost; it is very fact to use,
serves for a significant time and also does not allow bacteria
in. Nevertheless, these characteristics do not cover one huge
“defect” of the dental amalgam – toxicity.
This toxicity is the result of using mercury as a base for
the dental amalgam. Therefore the use of dental amalgam due
to this fact has a rather controversial character.
In terms of dental hygiene, dental amalgam is an essential
part of any dental practice due to its capability to control
the infection and its aseptic character. AT the same time
the toxic character of the dental amalgam and mercury exposure
as a consequence are said to be the stimulators of different
chronic diseases starting from birth defect and ending up
with al types of mental disorders. Exposure to mercury hits
the immune system of the organism, making it vulnerable and
weak. So on one side is the easiness of application, durability
and the infection prevention character of the dental amalgam
and on the other side its toxicity which leads to various
health problems for the patient. Dental amalgam treats cavity
and restores teeth but at the same time put the immune system
of the person under a toxic threat.
Dental amalgam can by applied to any person despite of the
individual’s age. It is especially useful for patients
who have severe dental hygiene problems. It easily treats
the poor dental hygiene of a patient, and in its turn facilitates
further dental procedures (Roberts,2005).
The use of dental amalgam generates waste. This waste is very
harmful for the environment of the planet. As mercury can
accumulate in the water resources of the planet eventually
it concentrates in fish and gets to the food chain of people
causing serious health problems. This is the reason the dental
amalgam waste cannot get to the municipal garbage and requires
special technology of disposal and further recycling. This
extremely important due to the fact that dental amalgam, under
the influence of temperature releases mercury and cause health
issues for the community. Therefore the only way to recycle
dental amalgam waste is to keep it away from any other types
of waste. The best option in term of amalgam waste is the
distillation process. In terms of dental amalgam waste it
is necessary to mention the Dental Best Management Practices
which is what keeps the process of amalgam disposal and recycling
under control. Dental Best Management Practices deals with
amalgam waste collection programs and working with amalgam
on concrete schemes such as using amalgam separators, vacuum
collectors and other (JADA,2003).
In order to make sure that the dental amalgam waste does not
harm the environment it is necessary to follow five basic
recycling steps. Step number one deals with the storage of
amalgam capsules in many containers to decrease the waste
quantity. Step number two positions dental amalgam as mix
that is in constant contact with the body fluids of a human
organism, therefore may be potentially dangerous for health
if used without protective equipment such as masks, gloves
and other. Step number three implies that the dental clinic
will ask the recycler for any existing type of the requirement
for dealing collection, transportation and storing of the
dental amalgam waste. Amalgam waste is to be recycled according
to a special recycling program of the area. Step number four
states that any dental amalgam waste is to be store in special
plastic containers with a label indicating what type of waste
it is. The requirements of the recycler are to be strictly
followed and the last step deals with the compliance with
ADA-ANSI standard of dental amalgam waste recycling. These
recycling steps are applied for all types of amalgam waste:
capsules, non-contact amalgam (scrap amalgam) and non-contact
amalgam (Meskin, 2001).
As dental amalgam is still widely used therefore dental amalgam
waste due to its amount and toxicity may cause severe environment
and health problems. In order to maintain the toxicity of
the amalgam waste under control it is necessary to make sure
that it goes through the corresponding disposal and recycling
program, which minimizes its hazardous influence on human
1. ADA council on scientific affairs. “Dental mercury
hygiene recommendations”. Journal of the American Dental
Association. Vol.134(11)(2003): 1498-9.
2. ADA council on scientific affairs. ”Dental amalgam:
update on safety concerns”. Journal of the American
Dental Association. Vol.129(4)(1998):494-503.
3. Meskin, L., D.M.D. ”Do no harm”. Journal of
the American Dental Association. Vol. 132(9)(2001):1200-1201.
4. Roberts, H., D.M.D. “Disinfectants’ effect
on mercury release from amalgam”. Journal of the American
Dental Association. Vol.136(7)(2005):915-919.
5. Kranhold K. “Dentists battle ‘gag’ on
warning about mercury”. Wall Street Journal. B1(2001).