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THE EFFECT OF THE DENTAL AMALGAM CONTROVERSY ON DENTISTS' ATTITUDE AND USE OF AMALGAM IN NAIROBI, KENYA

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The issue of the dental amalgam controversy has been ongoing for a long time now. This is primarily due to the mercury content in amalgam fillings. Mercury is a heavy, toxic metal especially the vapor and organic mercury compounds. This controversy has tom dental practitioners into two groups as regards amalgam use. One group says amalgam is safe to use since there is negligible level of mercury released from the fillings. The other group says that whatever the levels produced, mercury has a potential of causing harm to the body. Therefore the controversy has generated attitudes towards dental amalgam and has even affected its use.

The aim of this study was to determine the effect of the amalgam controversy on the attitudes and also on the use of dental amalgam among dental surgeons. This was a cross sectional descriptive study conducted among 74 dentists in Nairobi, Kenya. Data collection was done using a self administered questionnaire. Results were analyzed by aid of a computer using SPSS programme version 12.00. These were presented using tables, pie charts and graphs.


Results showed that 72 (98%) dentists were aware of the controversy. Those who had a positive attitude towards amalgam were 66 ( 89.6%). These were among the 72 who had knowledge about the controversy. Those who had a negative attitude towards amalgam were 8 (10.4%).The negative attitude could however not be attributed to the controversy. It was also interesting to find out that the controversy had not affected the use of dental amalgam.
Most dentists 71 ( 97.4% ) still used amalgam as a material of choice for posterior restorations. The major problem with amalgam was aesthetics followed by fear for risk of an allergic reaction. There is therefore need for more research to be done with an aim of fmding out the side effects encountered due to mercury toxicity from amalgam restorations. This will aid in resolving this controversy. Dental practioneers should also be educated on the possible side effects due to mercury toxicity from dental amalgam.

 

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