I see many patients requesting to have their “silver” amalgam (mercury) fillings removed for various reasons, often at the suggestions of their physician or naturopathic doctor.
Amalgam fillings were and continue to be popular due to the ease of placement and low cost. Many people are not aware that these fillings are almost 50% mercury. In addition, many of these fillings are quite large and can emit a large amount of mercury into the body over the life of the filling. The World Health Organization estimates that individuals with these fillings can get as much as 17mcg/day. About 46% of dentists in the U.S. still use amalgam in their offices.
Even more alarming is that this dose is nothing compared to the dose of mercury that individual would receive if those fillings were just “drilled out” by the local dentist and the vapor and particles were subsequently inhaled or ingested.
At Cloud Nine Dental we use the best available protocols for removal of amalgam fillings. These guidelines are developed and recommended by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology.
- First, the use of a rubber dam is mandatory. The rubber dam creates a seal to prevent the patient from inhaling or ingesting mercury vapor and dust.
- High volume suction should be used at all times to prevent vapor from escaping.
- Cooling the fillings. There is a lot of heat generated while removing fillings with a dental handpiece. This heat can add to the vaporization of mercury. A high volume water spray not only catches particles in its mist, but also serves to cool the filling and bur during removal.
- Amalgam “chunking”. Using a specialized dental bur, mercury fillings can be sectioned into larger chunks to prevent vaporization.
- Providing fresh oxygen via a mask. A rubber dam seals the mouth, a mask can seal the nose so that fresh oxygen can be delivered without allowing mercury vapor in.
- Proper cleanup including handing our patients a hot towel infused with essential oils to clean the skin of any particles that may have landed on them, as well as disposing of any protective barriers immediately.
- Additional filtering of the office air can also be helpful.
- I also advise that you consult your physician or naturopath regarding protective infusions of vitamins or the use of activated charcoal.
It should be noted that some biological or mercury aware dentists will have slightly different protocols, but these guidelines from the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology are considered best practices.
To speak with a doctor regarding safe mercury amalgam removal please navigate to the “contact us” page.