Mercury Filling Removal: How We Do It
Apr 16, 2021
Over the last 60 years or so, mercury amalgam (metal) dental fillings have become increasingly less common, but for decades, they were the standard. Their durability and cost-effectiveness made them the go-to for most dentists, and many dentists unfortunately still use them today. Mercury amalgam dental fillings are made from about half liquid mercury (also called elemental mercury), and the rest is made from a powdered alloy containing silver, tin, and copper.
Composite resin fillings (white fillings) have become more popular and more durable over time, so it’s likely that if you’ve had a cavity filled in the last couple of decades, that’s what you received. But if you have a mercury filling, you may have wondered whether or not you should get it replaced. There are a few complicating factors to consider in answering that question.
Why Mercury Filling Removal Can Be Dangerous
Mercury filling removal is slightly more complex than you might think. The main issue is the potential for releasing high amounts of mercury vapor during the process.
If you’re considering getting your mercury filling removed, you may already know that mercury is toxic even in small amounts. Mercury exposure can have damaging effects on the nervous system, immune system, and digestive system; as well as the skin, eyes, and kidneys.
In the past, it was thought that the mercury vapors stayed contained within the amalgam, so they didn’t affect the patient. Now we know that isn’t entirely true. When people chew or the teeth are heated, the fillings emit mercury vapor that is absorbed by the body. The FDA released a statement in 2020 attesting to this, noting that the level of exposure can differ from person to person.
“The amalgam releases small amounts of mercury vapor over time,” the FDA reports, having studied the scientific literature and monitored reports on the subject for more than 20 years. “How much vapor is released can also depend on the age of the filling as well as a person’s habits such as teeth grinding.”
When you remove a mercury dental filling without taking safety precautions, those vapors can be emitted in dangerously high concentrations. Dentists have to take extra precautions to ensure patient safety.
How We Remove Mercury Fillings Safely
Nashville Restorative Dentistry is committed to supporting whole-body wellness through excellent dental care, so we take every precaution we can to ensure safety when we remove mercury fillings.
We go above and beyond to ensure the risk of exposure is as minimal as possible. Our precautions and procedures include:
- Protecting your body, face and hair from any mercury particles with a disposable drape
- Providing an alternative oxygen source to avoid any inhalation of mercury vapor
- Placing a Dental AirVac within eight inches of the patient’s mouth to help suction away and filter any mercury vapors
- A non-latex rubber dam to isolate the teeth involved
- Carefully removing the amalgam in the largest pieces possible to minimize vapor-producing grinding
- A three-day course of Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C leading up to the procedure
- Providing activated charcoal capsules for the patient after the procedure to bind to any potential particles that made their way into the intestines
- HEPA air filters throughout the office
We are intentional about every one of these details because we believe our patients deserve to feel confident they are safe and protected while in our care. We take the risks of mercury vapors very seriously, which is just one of the reasons we provide metal-free dentistry for our patients every day.
By committing to metal-free dentistry, we eliminate the concern about metals of any type — including mercury — by offering BPA-free resin fillings, ceramic and zirconia crowns and bridges, and zirconia dental implants to replace missing teeth. These biocompatible materials provide long-lasting tooth restorations that our patients can feel good about.
Should I get my mercury filling removed?
If you have a large number of mercury fillings in your mouth, health condition(s), or are otherwise high-risk, the FDA says removal might be worth considering. People at a higher risk include:
- Pregnant women and their developing fetuses
- Women who are planning to become pregnant
- Nursing women and their newborns and infants
- Children, especially those younger than six years of age
- People with pre-existing neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease
- People with impaired kidney function; and
- People with known heightened sensitivity (allergy) to mercury or other components of dental amalgam.
If you or a loved one fit into one of these descriptions and you’re concerned about mercury exposure, Nashville Restorative Dentistry offers safe and skilled removal and replacement of mercury fillings.
Get the excellent, forward-thinking care you deserve by calling us at 615-591-0294 today, or click here to schedule an appointment.
We are equipped to handle the majority of your dental needs.
We understand the importance of having a dentist you can trust. And that means not being sent off to a different specialist every time you need a new procedure. At Nashville Restorative Dentistry, we are equipped to handle the majority of your dental needs, from cosmetic to restorative, implants to extractions. When you come to us, you are getting a dental team for life.