Removal of mercury amalgam fillings is a concern that more people are sharing.
We’ve previously written about reasons why people may choose to have their mercury amalgam fillings removed, here. Among these reasons are concerns about aesthetics, wear or damage, or mercury content.
Whatever your reason for wanting a change, you should make sure that the dentist you choose to remove your old mercury fillings is SMART certified. We’ll go into detail about what exactly SMART is in the next section, but first, we’ll explain why it’s so important to have your fillings removed by a specially trained dentist.
The FDA says that mercury amalgam fillings are safe as long as they aren’t damaged. However, the risk of mercury vapor being emitted is greater during the removal process.
This is why it is important to have a SMART certified dentist remove your mercury amalgam fillings.
What is SMART?
SMART stands for Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique.
It was created by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. You can read more about the IAOMT and the SMART protocol in more detail, here.
The SMART protocol is a multi-step process that ensures that no mercury is inhaled by either dental personnel or the patient. It requires the dentist to put in place many precautions so that the patient is completely safe.
These precautions include:
- Installation of an amalgam separator to remove amalgam waste from general effluent.
- Filtration and airflow in the room where removal takes place, to ensure the removal of mercury fumes.
- The patient is given a slurry made of charcoal or a similar substance which will fix the mercury so that it is safely removed from the body, should any be swallowed.
- Protective gowns for all people in the room to ensure mercury does not adhere to clothes or the body.
- Appropriate gloves, face shields, and hairnets should be worn by both the patient and dental personnel.
- The dental personnel should wear a face mask capable of filtering mercury particles.
- The patient should be given an oxygen mask that covers the nose so that they don’t breathe in mercury vapors.
- The dentist should use a dental dam and a suction device to ensure mercury vapors and particles are collected and not ingested or inhaled.
- A drill is used to remove the amalgam in as large chunks as possible.
- After removal, the patient’s mouth is rinsed with water and a charcoal slurry again
Important safety steps
This breakdown of the process may make it sound as though mercury amalgam fillings are highly dangerous and may make you ask why they are allowed to be used in the first place. It is important to remember that when mercury is mixed into the amalgam that is put into your mouth, it is deemed safe. However, the process of removal causes some of that mercury to be released, which can then cause health issues.
It is also important to remember that the biggest health risk is to the dentist, as they are exposed many times over. Consider the way your dentist behaves when taking x-rays of your teeth. You may wonder why they leave the room, while you are given no protection. This is because a single dose is not harmful, but the dentist is exposed many times over their career. A good dentist will make sure they have all the proper safety procedures in place.
If you want to have your mercury amalgam fillings removed, and you want to ensure that they are removed according to the SMART protocol, contact Dr. Mandanas today.