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Embracing SAFE Mercury/Amalgam Removal for Your Health

By Dr. Chad Libraty

A look at dental care’s past often highlights practices that now seem somewhat bizarre, and occasionally, hazardous to health. Among these practices was the rampant use of mercury or amalgam fillings. An amalgam, in dentistry, refers to a specific type of filling made from a mixture of metals such as silver, tin, copper, and mercury. Over the years, this traditional dental material has become the subject of a growing health concern, triggering the evolution of safe mercury/amalgam removal protocols.

Why are These Metals Dangerous?

Among the amalgam constituents, mercury causes the most worry, taking up nearly 50% of the filling’s composition. Despite its application in dental practices for centuries, mercury is a known neurotoxin. If absorbed into the body, mercury could cause a range of potential health complications such as autoimmune diseases, mental disorders, kidney issues, and heart problems. Mercury also poses a significant risk to pregnant women as it can cross the placenta and accumulate in the developing fetus.

Historically, the quantity of mercury released from an amalgam filling was believed to be minuscule and, therefore, harmless. However, modern research has linked chronic mercury exposure, even in small amounts, to numerous health issues. This exposure is often aggravated when one grinds teeth, consumes hot food, or drinks, or gets their teeth cleaned professionally, leading to more mercury being released. Consequently, many patients today are looking for safe ways to have their amalgam fillings removed.

Cracked teeth is also a very common result of metal restorations. Metal is a conductor and as the temperature in the mouth changes, the metal contracts and expands over time. This puts a tremendous amount of stress on teeth. By far our most common emergency dental appointment is a cracked tooth that previously had a metal amalgam filling in it. Sometimes this can break teeth beyond repair, requiring an extraction and implant.

What is SAFE Removal?

SAFE removal refers to a systematic and cautious method employed to extract mercury or amalgam fillings without risking patient exposure to harmful mercury vapors and particulates. This approach prioritizes the patient’s safety, minimizing the possibility of mercury ingestion or inhalation during the procedure.

Practitioners following the SAFE protocol use extensive measures to limit the exposure, which include:

  • Implementing an effective high-speed evacuation system and utilizing mercury vapor ionizers.
  • Providing alternative air sources or oxygen to the patient during the removal to avoid inhaling any mercury vapor.
  • Applying non-latex dental dams and a clean-up aspirator tip to reduce mercury particulate ingestion.
  • Cutting the amalgam into large pieces for quick and straightforward removal.
  • Monitoring and controlling the surgery room’s environment with continuous mercury vapor assessment.
  • Disposing of the amalgam waste correctly and legally to protect the environment from contamination.

What Do You Replace These Metals With?

Once the amalgam fillings have been safely removed, the void left behind must be filled with a suitable dental restoration material. Thanks to advances in dental material technology, there is now a range of biocompatible, metal-free alternatives available to replace the amalgam.

Integrative Dental Care uses natural white resin fillings because they offer several advantages over traditional amalgam fillings. Probably the most significant benefit is the fact that natural resin bonds to enamel and tooth structure, allowing our dentists to drill less and preserve as much healthy tooth structure as possible before bonding in the resin. In comparison, metal restorations need mechanical retention and require more drilling and often the removal of healthy tooth structure in order to place the metal in a large enough box that so it will be retained. Another obvious advantage is the aesthetics, as the natural white resin blends seamlessly with the natural tooth, making it virtually invisible. This type of filling is also free from mercury, a heavy metal used in amalgam fillings that some people wish to avoid for health and environmental reasons. Furthermore, white resin fillings are quite durable and less likely to cause tooth sensitivity than amalgam fillings. Therefore, in prioritizing both patient health and aesthetic concerns, Integrative Dental Care opts to use natural white resin fillings.

Conclusion

Safe removal of mercury/amalgam fillings is necessary for preserving both the dental health of the patient and their overall wellbeing. The dangers that mercury pose are undeniable, making the switch to biocompatible materials imperative. As knowledge about these potential health hazards becomes more widespread, more dental practitioners are adopting SAFE removal protocols. Simultaneously, patients are becoming increasingly conscious of the materials used in their dental procedures and the long-term health impacts. As this evolution in dental care continues, a future where mercury is completely phased out in dentistry seems to be fast approaching.

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Take control of your oral and overall health today with Integrative Dental Care, where we take a holistic approach to your dental needs. We focus on your overall well-being, not just your teeth. Experience the benefits of Holistic Dentistry today! Choose Integrative Dental Care for a healthier mouth and a healthier you.

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