Exposure to any amount of mercury can be risky or harmful, and in dentistry this is particularly problematic when amalgam fillings are placed or removed. Because of this, we always use the safest techniques to remove metal fillings to reduce any possible exposure to ourselves, our staff, and most importantly, our patients.
Minimizing the Risk
The traditional way to remove fillings can pose a few risks. In fact, this is why the FDA has expressed concern over mercury filling removals because it could lead to more mercury being released and even more loss to the tooth structure.
This problem comes from many traditional dentists improperly grinding out old amalgam fillings without taking the proper precautions. They believe that the mercury in the filling is stable and won’t emit enough to cause harm.
However, we know this is not the case.
Amalgam does emit mercury. Grinding with dental burs creates clouds of mercury dust that can travel into the respiratory system and settle in the lungs. Mercury exposure from the vapor inhaled can be dangerous to your health; so that is why we take precautions to minimize you and our staff from inhaling these toxic vapors.
The Right Way to Remove Metal Fillings
Our foremost goal is to minimize everyone’s exposure to mercury as it is removed. We use several methods to ensure your safety throughout the process.
- Cutting, Not Grinding – Grinding metal creates a fine dust and increases the surface area. So, instead, we slice and cut the amalgam into pieces, and then prod out the individual chunks.
- Constant Water Flow – At the same time, we direct a flow of water on the cutting surfaces to keep the mercury cool and more stable to further reduce the amount of vapor emitted.
- High-volume Suction – We keep constant suction running throughout the entire procedure until all removal and clean-up is complete. This ensures that the release of particles is kept to a minimum and that debris is directed into the suction tube to the extent possible.
- Rubber Dams – These tools create an extra layer of protection by containing most of the rubble from the removal of the fillings. Dams are unable to prevent mercury vapor from diffusing, however, so even further precautions are taken.
- Saliva Ejector – An ejector on the backside of the dam helps prevent air containing mercury vapor from getting trapped in there. A nitrile damn is a better option as it protects from vapor more than latex will.
- Covering Up – We carefully cover your face and skin with protective materials to prevent any particles of amalgam or mercury vapor from landing in the eyes or on the face.
- Supplemental Air – The air you breathe must be clear. We give our patients supplemental air to make sure they are not breathing in anything that is near the amalgam removal site.
By following these safety protocols, we can practice safe mercury filling removal of your amalgam fillings without any further harm to your health. Contact us today and start getting healthier and happier!
We also offer a list of supplements to take before, during, and after mercury removal. And for further reading, please check out this informative article: Revised Protocol for Detoxifying Your Body from Mercury Exposure