When Getting Mercury Fillings Removed, Choose a SMART-Certified Dentist. Here’s Why.
Though the past couple years have been rough going, they’ve included some great developments, as well. For one, the FDA finally acknowledged that dental amalgam – the mercury alloy used to make “silver” fillings – is NOT, in fact, safe for everyone. They now say roughly two-thirds of the US population should avoid them due to the risks they pose to human health:
- Children, especially those younger than 6.
- Women who are breastfeeding, pregnant, or planning to get pregnant.
- People with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or MS.
- People with impaired kidney function.
- Anyone highly sensitive or allergic to mercury or any other components in amalgam.
Since then, the two major dental supply companies here in the US have chosen to stop making and marketing amalgam.
Meantime, an amendment to the Minamata Convention – a global treaty to reduce mercury pollution – was recently accepted, requiring nations to discourage the use of mercury amalgam in children under the age of 15 and in pregnant and nursing mothers.
Clearly, the momentum is on the side of mercury-free dentistry. It’s something we’ve practiced in our Milburn office for many years. After all, mercury is a neurotoxin, dangerous to the brain, and it’s off-gassed with every bite and swallow. Once that vapor is inhaled, it’s a quick trip from the lungs into the bloodstream and from there to organs that have a special affinity for attracting heavy metals, particularly the kidneys and brain.
“Mercury-Free” Is Not Enough
When people learn about the health hazards posed by dental amalgam, they naturally favor healthier – not to mention more aesthetic – alternatives. This consumer demand has inspired more dentists to quit the material even before the changes of the past couple years.
But mercury-free isn’t mercury-SAFE, and safety is paramount when it comes to removing old amalgams, whether that removal is due to wear or breakage, or because a patient chooses it for health reasons. For instance, take a look at what happens when a dentist starts drilling the amalgam to remove it:
Such exposure could make a healthy person sick and a chronically ill person even sicker. Instead of solving the problem, you’ve created a worse one.
Special precautions MUST be taken when removing mercury amalgam, to protect the health of patients, dental workers, and our planet.
Our Doctors are Certified in Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal
The gold standard for safe mercury removal is SMART, which stands for “Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique.” This science-based protocol was developed by the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology, a professional association devoted to biocompatible, biological dentistry.
While any dentist can follow the IAOMT’s strict guidelines, the only assurance of having your amalgams removed safely is by choosing a dentist who is SMART-certified. At the Holistic Dental Center of New Jersey, all our dentists are SMART-certified practitioners.
Here’s a brief overview of what this involves:
- Amalgam separators are installed to keep mercury from entering the waste water stream.
- Powerful, high-volume air filter systems are in place in each treatment room where we remove amalgams. This includes oral aerosol vacuums that we place close to the patient’s face during the procedure to capture mercury vapor and particulate.
- The patient is given a slurry of charcoal or chlorella to rinse with and swallow before the procedure, to absorb mercury.
- The patient and dental team are fully covered with protective gowns and hair coverings. The dental team also wears non-latex, nitrile gloves and properly sealed, respiratory grade masks rated to capture mercury.
- Throughout the procedure, the patient is given oxygen via a nasal mask.
- A non-latex, nitrile dental dam is placed and sealed in the patient’s mouth, to keep mercury from entering the patient’s throat. A saliva ejector is placed underneath the dam to further reduce mercury exposure.
- Much water is used during the procedure to reduce heat during drilling, and high speed suction is used to capture mercury discharges.
- The dentist uses a small diameter, slow speed carbide drill to section each amalgam into chunks, removing the alloy in as large of pieces as possible.
- Once the amalgam has been removed, the patient’s mouth is thoroughly flushed with water and then rinsed with a slurry of charcoal or chlorella.
- After the procedure, the treatment area is cleaned thoroughly and all mercury-contaminated materials are properly disposed of as hazardous waste.
A more detailed version of this protocol with scientific references is available here.