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Legal Actions

Volume 400: debated on Wednesday 26 February 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many legal actions have been taken against (a) general dental practitioners, (b) specialist dental practitioners and (c) health authorities in England and Wales by patients who have received retrograde amalgam fillings and whose general health was adversely affected as a result; how many of these actions were successful; and what was the total amount of damages awarded by the courts in respect of such actions; [98354](2) what

(a) testing and (b) assessment was made of the (i) efficacy and (ii) safety in relation to the recipient's health of retrograde amalgam fillings for teeth before their use in England and Wales; [98355]

(3) when the use of retrograde amalgam fillings was discontinued in England and Wales; and for what reasons. [98353]

Amalgam has been used for over 150 years to fill billions of teeth and is still in general use in England and Wales for dental restorations, including retrograde restorations. Apart from rare instances of hypersensitivity, no adverse reactions have been proven. Alternative dental restorative materials are not so easily, quickly and reliably placed. Neither are they so durable. The 1998 European Union expert report concluded that currently available data indicate that mercury from dental amalgam restorations will not cause an unacceptable health risk to the general population. Information is not held centrally on legal actions involving dental treatment, but the Department is not aware of any recent cases about the use of amalgam.