Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique
Amalgam is the most commonly used filling material throughout the world. It is an alloy of over 51% elemental Mercury, and Copper, Silver, Tin and Zinc. It is a material that attracts a lot of controversy because of its mercury content. Mercury is harmful to human health and the environment. Mercury is continuously released from amalgam fillings, and it is absorbed and retained in the body, particularly in the brain, kidney, liver, lung, and gastrointestinal tract.
Although a number of other countries have banned or limited the use of silver amalgam fillings, dental mercury is currently used on about 45% of direct dental restorations worldwide, including in the USA. Mercury amalgam has been used as a filling material since 1816. Since then, new strong filling materials have been invented and new dental equipment like dental water lasers and air abrasion make it possible to make mercury (silver) fillings redundant.
What Are The Disadvantages of Silver Amalgam Fillings?
- They can be dark and unsightly.
- As they age, the edges of the fillings undergo metal fatigue and begin to breakdown.
- When fillings break, they no longer seal the tooth; this may allow cavities to start again!
- Silver fillings just fill holes, they don't add strength to teeth (bonded fillings add strength)
- The metal in silver fillings causes unsightly stains of the teeth and the gums.
- Silver fillings are about 50% mercury, which can be a health concern for some people.
Removal of silver dental amalgam fillings without safety measures can result in the dental room exceeding the safety limit of mercury exposure. The amount of mercury released from fillings depends on the number of fillings a patient has and other circumstances, such as chewing, teeth-grinding, and the consumption of hot/acidic liquids. Mercury is also known to be released at higher levels during the placement, replacement, and removal of dental mercury amalgam fillings. Some patients require the removal of silver amalgam fillings due to device failure, while others opt for the removal of silver amalgam fillings because of cosmetic purposes (white-colored fillings match the teeth better) or because they prefer to have dental fillings that do not contain mercury.
SMART Certified, "mercury-safe" dentists apply special techniques to remove dental mercury amalgam fillings. While "mercury-free" dentists no longer place amalgam fillings and use available mercury-free alternatives, "mercury-safe" dentists apply special techniques to remove existing amalgam fillings. Based on up-to-date scientific research, the IAOMT has developed rigorous recommendations for removing existing dental mercury amalgam fillings to assist in reducing the potential negative outcomes of mercury exposure to patients, dental professionals, dental students, office staff, and others.
The IAOMT's recommendations are known as the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART). Obviously, once dental amalgams have been removed, they must be replaced with a different dental filling material. Most consumers choose direct compositive fillings because the white coloring matches the tooth better and the cost is considered affordable.
Why Should You Have Your Dental Mercury Removed?
Dental amalgam contains 50% mercury. It is the second most toxic substance on the planet and the only metal that evaporates at room temperature so why was it put in my mouth? The remaining 50% incidentally comprises a mixture of silver, tin, copper and zinc. Amalgam has been used for dental amalgam fillings since the early 1800s, and even then, there were doubts as to its safety. The Amalgam Wars in the USA resulted in a resolution being passed in 1845 pronouncing the use of amalgam as "malpractice".
Originally, amalgam was made out of a paste of fillings from silver coins and mercury. The problem was that the impurities in the coins made it expand and crack the teeth, hence the new mixture. You may not know anything about science, but when various metals get put together, they can react in different ways. Metals corrode especially when they are exposed to moisture, and for some strange reason, these toxic ones are put in our mouths.
Mercury is incredibly dangerous. The Egyptians used it to repel tomb raiders and warnings are always given not to breathe it in or ingest it. It used to be used in the hat making process and many people went mad. Mercury toxicity is often referred to as the Mad Hatter's Disease. Mercury is used in fillings because it is incredibly durable, easy to place and cheap. As it was used long before there were any safety regulatory bodies, people just assumed it was safe and even now, most dentists hold that view.
However, mercury is dangerous. It is toxic and even dentists have to use it with care. Mercury poisoning is invisible and is caused when the body is unable to get rid of the continual production of mercury vapor. It builds up over a period of time and compromises the immune system, and as it is not contagious, it doesn't have to be reported. It is, therefore, difficult to assess just how many people are affected.
The Good News
Fortunately, the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology (IAOMT) helps us by offering the most up to date (last review December 2016) based on a research protocol for safe amalgam fillings removal. This technique has been given a very clever name, "SMART" by the acronym of the words Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique. All dental amalgam fillings are, as usually mentioned, silver fillings containing an average of 50% of mercury. According to research, mercury vapor is known to be released from amalgam fillings during brushing, chewing, teeth grinding, removal of filling, etc.
There are studies that mention that these vapors are not harmful to your overall health and also others that support the exact opposite effect – that mercury is absolutely toxic for both the patient, as well as for us, the dental staff (dentist & dental assistant). There are many dental practices in which mercury is avoided. There are fewer dental practices skilled in the safe removal of this toxic substance. An amalgam filling should not simply be drilled down and removed. The exposure to mercury particles would be far too great with this approach. Hence, many dentists advise their patients to leave mercury fillings in place as long as they are intact.
Dr. Kalli Hale and Dr. Brad Jetton are accredited members of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and are certified with the IAOMT for the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (S.M.A.R.T. Certified). Dr. Hale performs this in League City, Texas and Dr. Jetton will be performing this in Houston, Texas. Their skills in the safe removal of amalgam fillings are extensive, and they train other dentists in the strict protocols so that they, too, may provide the safest care to their patients.
If you would like to learn more about how we can remove toxic mercury from your mouth, please call New Teeth Dental Solutions today. Your initial consultation is complimentary.
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