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The Importance of Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal: Protecting Your Health and the Environment

Updated: Jun 18, 2023



Mercury amalgam fillings have been widely used as a dental solution for decades. Unfortunately, most people are unaware that they carry serious health risks. The toxic nature of mercury can cause neurological problems, respiratory issues, and kidney damage. Improper disposal of these fillings further exacerbates the problem by polluting the environment. Thankfully, there are safe and effective methods for mercury amalgam removal that protect both your health and the environment. As a responsible patient, it is crucial to educate yourself on the safe removal process and work with a dentist who prioritizes the use of safe practices. In this article, we will delve into the importance of safe mercury amalgam removal and how you can protect yourself and the environment.


The Dangers of Mercury Exposure

Mercury is a toxic heavy metal and a potent neurotoxin. It is present in various forms in the environment, including air, water, and soil. Mercury exposure can lead to a host of health problems, including neurological damage, respiratory problems, and kidney damage. The most common source of mercury exposure is through dental amalgam fillings, which contain at least 50% mercury.

When mercury amalgam fillings are placed or removed, they release mercury vapours into the air, which can be inhaled and absorbed by the body. Mercury can also leach into the body through saliva and the digestive system. This can lead to mercury accumulation in various organs, including the brain, liver, and kidneys. Over time, mercury toxicity can cause significant damage to these organs, leading to serious health problems. Therefore, safe mercury amalgam removal is crucial to avoid exposure to this toxic metal.


Traditional vs. Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal

Traditional mercury amalgam removal involves drilling out the old filling without any precautions. This can result in the release of mercury vapours, which can be inhaled by the patient and dental staff. This method poses a risk to the health of both the patient and the dental staff. Safe mercury amalgam removal, on the other hand, involves a set of protocols that minimize the exposure to mercury vapours during the removal process.

The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) has developed a set of safe mercury amalgam removal protocols that minimize the exposure to mercury vapours during the removal process. These protocols include the use of a high-volume suction system, a rubber dam, and an oxygen mask. The rubber dam isolates the tooth being worked on, preventing the patient from swallowing or inhaling any debris or vapours. The high-volume suction system removes any debris and vapours generated during the removal process. The oxygen mask ensures that the patient breathes clean air during the procedure.


The Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Protocol

The safe mercury amalgam removal protocol involves several steps to minimize the exposure to mercury vapours during the removal process. The protocol includes the following steps:

  1. Identify the patient's overall health status and any pre-existing medical conditions that may affect the removal process.

  2. Determine the number and location of all mercury amalgam fillings in the patient's mouth.

  3. Provide the patient with a rubber dam and an oxygen mask to minimize exposure to mercury vapours.

  4. Use a high-speed handpiece to remove the amalgam filling in chunks, rather than grinding it.

  5. Use a special suction device to capture any debris and vapours generated during the removal process.

  6. Replace the mercury amalgam filling with a non-toxic filling material.

Following the safe mercury amalgam removal protocol ensures minimal exposure to mercury vapours during the removal process, protecting the patient and the dental staff.


Finding a Qualified Mercury Safe Dentist

Not all dentists are qualified to perform safe mercury amalgam removal. It is essential to find a qualified mercury safe dentist who follows the safe protocol outlined by the IAOMT. A mercury safe dentist is a dentist who has undergone specialized training and certification in safe mercury amalgam removal.

The IAOMT provides a directory of certified mercury safe dentists on their website. It is essential to research the dentist's qualifications and experience in safe mercury amalgam removal before scheduling an appointment. Look for dentists who prioritize the use of safe practices and follow the IAOMT's guidelines for safe mercury amalgam removal.


The Benefits of Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal

Safe mercury amalgam removal has several benefits, including:

  1. Reduced exposure to mercury vapours during the removal process, protecting the patient and dental staff.

  2. Improved overall health and well-being by reducing the exposure to mercury in the body.

  3. Enhanced appearance of the teeth with non-toxic filling materials.

  4. Reduced risk of future dental problems and the need for future dental work.


Environmental Impact of Mercury Amalgam Fillings

The improper disposal of mercury amalgam fillings can harm the environment. When mercury amalgam fillings are disposed of in the trash, they end up in landfills, where they can contaminate the soil and water. Mercury can also enter the environment through dental clinics' wastewater, which can pollute rivers and lakes.

Safe mercury amalgam removal protocols include the proper disposal of the removed fillings. Dentists who follow the IAOMT's protocols are required to dispose of the fillings in a way that prevents environmental contamination.


Mercury Detoxification and Aftercare

After safe mercury amalgam removal, it is essential to undergo mercury detoxification and aftercare. Mercury detoxification involves removing mercury from the body through diet, supplements, and other detoxification methods. Aftercare involves following a healthy diet, avoiding exposure to mercury, and maintaining good oral hygiene.

Mercury detoxification methods include:

  1. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables.

  2. Taking supplements, such as vitamin C, selenium, and zinc.

  3. Using a sauna to sweat out toxins.

  4. Using binders for the mercury to remove it from the body.

Aftercare involves:

  1. Avoiding exposure to mercury in the environment, such as through seafood and contaminated air and water.

  2. Maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly.

  3. Eating a healthy diet that promotes overall health and well-being.


Frequently Asked Questions about Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal

  1. Is safe mercury amalgam removal covered by insurance? Ans: The coverage for safe mercury amalgam removal varies by insurance company and plan. It is essential to check with your insurance provider to see if they cover the procedure.

  2. How long does safe mercury amalgam removal take? Ans: The length of safe mercury amalgam removal depends on the number and location of the fillings. On average, the procedure takes about an hour per filling.

  3. Is safe mercury amalgam removal painful? Ans: Safe mercury amalgam removal is generally painless. The use of a rubber dam and anesthetic ensures that the patient is comfortable during the procedure.

  4. How long does it take to detoxify from mercury? Ans: The length of time it takes to detoxify from mercury varies depending on the individual's level of exposure and detoxification methods used. It can take several months to a year to fully detoxify from mercury.


Conclusion

Mercury amalgam fillings pose serious health risks and harm the environment if not disposed of properly. Safe mercury amalgam removal is crucial to protect both your health and the environment. It is essential to work with a qualified mercury safe dentist who follows the safe removal protocol outlined by the IAOMT. Following the safe removal procedure and aftercare, including mercury detoxification, ensures that you remain healthy and free from mercury exposure.

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