Dental amalgams are silver-colored fillings used in treating tooth decay.
It is an affordable option that offers long-lasting treatment against cavities. Its strong components are capable of protecting the tooth next to the fillings. Especially beneficial for people who are susceptible to cavities, dental amalgams reduce the risk of tooth loss or the need for a tooth extraction.
What Is Concerning About Dental Amalgams
It is mainly about the potential health effects of mercury exposure. Half of the dental amalgams are made from elemental mercury, and the other half from powdered alloys of silver, copper, and tin. Mercury binds with these metals to create a strong and durable dental filling. With mercury having the highest percentage comprising the filling, there is a possibility that it can be absorbed by the lungs through vaporization.
According to the FDA, dental amalgams fillings are capable of releasing small amounts of mercury in vapor. This small amount remains at a safe level even for people with multiple dental amalgam fillings. However, with no conclusive proof of its harmful effects, there are still certain patients who are at high risk. The FDA recommends the following to avoid amalgam fillings:
- Pregnant women or women who are planning to get pregnant
- Lactating mothers
- Children Under 6 years old
- People with sensitivity to mercury or other components found in dental amalgams
- People with kidney and neurological problems
How to Safely Remove Amalgam Fillings
The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) has outlined the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (“SMART”) to provide safety measures in removing dental amalgam fillings while more scientific studies are being undertaken. It is designed based on a combination of traditional and nontraditional practices to provide proper protection for both patients and dental providers to lessen the risk of exposure to mercury.
Dental Amalgam Removal Protocol
IAOMT has detailed protective measures for each removal process as follows:
- Prevent collected mercury from getting into the wastewater system by installing and using an amalgam separator.
- There must be a high-volume air filtration system in the room to where mercury fillings are to be removed.
- Keep windows opened to decrease mercury concentration in the air.
- Unless the patient refuses or there are contraindications, patients are advised to rinse and swallow a slurry of charcoal or any similar absorbent material.
- Personal protective equipment (gowns and covers) must be worn by the dentist, dental personnel, and the patient.
- Dentists and dental personnel must wear face shields, head coverings, and properly sealed respiratory masks or positive-pressure (that provides air) masks.
- The patient must wear a nasal mask to deliver oxygen and to ensure no mercury vapor will be inhaled during the procedure. Alternatively, a nasal cannula may be used provided that the nose is covered by an impermeable barrier.
- Put up barriers to decrease mercury exposure by:
- Using impermeable, full-body barriers that cover the head, face, and neck
- Sealing the patient’s mouth with a dental dam (non-latex nitrile material)
- Using a saliva ejector and placing it under a dental dam
- Using an oral aerosol vacuum and placing it about two to four inches from the mouth of the patient
- Use a high-speed evacuation device and use plenty of water to reduce heat.
- Cut the amalgam into chunks using a small-diameter carbide drill.
- After the process has been completed, flush the mouth thoroughly with water and rinse with a slurry of charcoal (or similar absorbent) again.
- Disposal of mercury-contaminated items, components, clothing, and others should be made in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations.
- The operating main suction unit or suction traps should only be made while the dental personnel is wearing personal protection equipment.
Does removing amalgam fillings have side effects? According to an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, there is a significant decrease in mercury levels found in the blood, plasma, and urine after amalgam fillings removal.
Where to Have Dental Amalgams Removed Safely
At Sunrise Dentistry, we are devoted to providing a safe and healthy option to address your dental concerns. With our approach to holistic dentistry in Durango, CO, we provide services that would benefit not only your oral health but also your whole well-being. Reach out to us. We would love to show you how holistic dentistry can benefit your health.