Should dental amalgams be used in dental training? The perspectives of dental academics at a university in South Africa


  • Sharmila Bissoon Masters Student, Discipline of Dentistry, University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Rajeshree Moodley Discipline of Dentistry, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X54001, Durban, 4001, South Africa



Dental amalgam; composite resin; dental curriculum; dental education; restorative dentistry, dental materials


Dental amalgam has been used in dentistry for the last 150 years to restore posterior teeth. Concerns regarding the safety issues with amalgam due to its mercury content have lead to the introduction of composite dental material to restore posterior teeth. This has transformed the teaching and training trends of direct restorative materials for posterior teeth. This descriptive study aimed to gain insight into academic staff and clinical supervisors’ perceptions regarding the use of dental amalgams in the teaching of restorative dentistry. This study used a qualitative method of data collection. Two focus group discussions were conducted between March and May 2020. Seventeen participants were invited to participate. Fourteen responded and participated, yielding an 82% response rate.
The data identified two major themes, viz. the challenges experienced with the teaching of dental amalgam and curriculum development recommendations. Clinical quota requirements, disposal of waste products, and occupational and environmental risks regarding mercury exposure were sub-themes. Some of the curriculum recommendations included the skills gained during cavity preparations, the training and quota requirements of dental materials, and teaching trends locally, nationally and internationally.
This study revealed that dental amalgam is still an integral part of the restorative dentistry curriculum at the university. However, the teaching of resin composite now occupies more than fifty percent of the restorative dentistry curriculum. Academics and clinical supervisors show a greater affinity for the placement of composite restorations.


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How to Cite

Bissoon, S., & Moodley, R. (2021). Should dental amalgams be used in dental training? The perspectives of dental academics at a university in South Africa. South African Dental Journal, 76(09), 524–531.