Without a doubt, the most controversial issue in dentistry today is that surrounding amalgams (silver fillings) – as amalgam contains mercury and releases mercury vapor into the body.
Our goal here is to present a hype-free overview of the mercury issue.
If you have any questions or concerns about mercury fillings or their removal:
The issues surrounding mercury fillings.
A brief overview of what should know about amalgams.
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Mercury is a known neurotoxin. Silver fillings (amalgams) release low levels of mercury vapor.
Silver fillings are made form a mixture of silver, tin copper, mercury, and a trace of zinc.
Mercury is a known neurotoxin that can cross the blood-brain barrier.
Silver fillings (also known as amalgams) release low levels of mercury vapor into the body.
Scientific studies concerning the safety of mercury fillings (amalgams) are conflicting and controversial.
Clinical studies regarding the dangers of mercury in amalgams are ongoing. The vast majority of clinical research performed thus far suggests that (all things being equal) amalgams are for the most part – safe.
However, the interpretation of data is somewhat conflicting and controversial, and the exact amount of mercury released is dependent on a number of factors with the individual (see below).
Norway, Denmark and Sweden have banned the use of mercury in dental amalgams.
The current ADA and FDA position is that amalgam is safe.
As of 2010, 50% of dentists were still using dental amalgams.
It’s also true that over a lifetime, dietary sources of mercury are much higher than that emitted from amalgams.
However, while the majority of clinical studies suggest that amalgam is safe, the interpretation of data from these studies is somewhat conflicting and controversial (see above), and the exact amount of mercury released is dependent on a number of factors with the individual (see below).
Many factors determine the exact amount of mercury vapor released from amalgam.
The amount of mercury released from amalgams can vary by individual, and is largely dependent on a number of factors, including:
- the number of fillings in the mouth
- the number of carbonated drinks consumed
- the grinding of teeth
- how old the fillings are
- whether or not the fillings are intact
Mercury exposure from amalgams can be cumulative. Some individuals do not have the ability to eliminate mercury effectively from their body.
The danger, it can be argued, is that mercury exposure from amalgams can be cumulative. In other words, it can add up over time.
We all should have the ability to excrete mercury through our urine, or hair. Some individuals can not properly clear this toxin, and accumulation over time can lead to lasting and destructive effects.
As mentioned above, the amount of mercury exposure from amalgams varies from person to person; the actual levels of exposure for any individual is dependent on a number of factors. This is one area where more clinical research needs to be performed.
The metal in amalgams can expand and contract, and over time, this can contribute to weakened and cracked teeth.
Silver mercury fillings expand and contract with chewing and temperature much differently than the flexible enamel that surrounds them. Over time, this can lead to fractures in the enamel.
If the tooth with the amalgam is significantly fractured, it’s a good time to have the filling removed. Fractures can extend deeper into the tooth, leading to pain, crowns, root canals or the complete fracture of the tooth – leading to extraction. Additionally, the amount of mercury vapor released by an exposed or cracked amalgam is significantly higher.
We can replace amalgams with a strong bonded resin or porcelain, before they cause damage to your enamel or fracture the root.
Over time, much like a new shiny penny that can corrode and turn dark, a silver filling can start to corrode in your mouth.
Amalgams are removed for a number of reasons.
When the patient and dentist jointly choose to have amalgams removed, this is done for a variety of reasons:
- For some, it’s a cosmetic decision.
- Sometimes it’s practical: the tooth with the filling has fractured.
- Some have allergies to mercury or other metals in amalgam.
- Some have done their own homework and are adamant about removing the mercury.
It’s important that you discuss the removal of amalgams with your dentist. Dr Vane can have an informed discussion with you during your appointment.
When it is decided to removal of amalgams is warranted, it is critical that they be removed safely - as up to 100x the normal amount of mercury vapor can be released during removal.
If the mercury is not properly removed by a trained dentist, often the patient will swallow mercury and inhale its vapor at an effect of 100 times that if it was left alone.
Not all dentists are qualified to remove mercury, In fact, over 95% of dental offices do not have the equipment necessary for proper removal.
Dr. Vane underwent comprehensive and extensive training from dentist Dr. Grant Layton, who has practiced this method for over 30 years.
A properly trained dentist places a non-latex rubberdam as a protective sheath over the tooth, preventing swallowing. In addition, high volume suction and a mercury vapor vacuum system must be used in order to prevent exposure to the mercury vapor during the removal process.
The term "mercury-free" is different than "mercury-safe".
Recently a survey showed that 50% of general dentists no longer use amalgam and now call themselves mercury-free. However, this is a misnomer, as many dentists will use this term simply because they no longer believe that amalgam was as good of a filling material when compared to the newer composites and porcelain restorations.
Mercury-safe dentists have specialized equipment, training, experience, and skills necessary to minimize their patients’ exposure to mercury during amalgam removal.
Additional training from the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and the International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine provides an education on mercury toxicity as well as the protocols for specialized removal. More and more patients are seeking dentists who will protect themselves and their patients from excessive and unnecessary exposure to mercury vapor and want to ensure their dentist is not just mercury-free, but mercury safe!
Dr. Vane has specialized training in safe mercury removal, from both the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and the International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine.
Safe mercury removal: How it works
When the removal of mercury fillings is warranted, it is critical that this is done safely, as up to 100x the amount of mercury vapor can be released during removal.
A special rubber dam.
Prevents the swallowing of mercury.
A special rubber dam is put in your mouth so you don’t swallow any mercury
A special suction system.
Side vents vapor. Removes mercury particles.
A suction system is specifically used for mercury removal. This side vents, so vapor and small particles that are a result of drilling get safely removed. A special vacuum is also used so you don’t inhale mercury vapor.
A special vacuum.
Avoids mercury vapor inhalation.
A special vacuum is also used to prevent both patient and staff from inhaling mercury vapors.
Oxygen. Supplements to aid in chelation.
At request, we can offer supplemental oxygen to patients. We also have supplements that we can provide to help aid the body in it’s natural removal of mercury.
Mercury removal: Before & after
Concerned about mercury levels in your body?
We sell a test kit for that.
Pick it up & mail it away!
The Mercury Tri Test is a take-home kit that tests for mercury in your blood, urine and hair.
Once you pick it up at our office, you perform the test, and mail it to the lab yourself.
Blood can be drawn at your local lab of medical doctor’s office.
For more information about this test, watch Dr. Christopher Shade’s video, here.
to ask a mercury revision trained doctor:
Before you elect to have your mercury fillings removed, the following questions will ensure your dentist is prepared for preventing the inhalation or swallowing of mercury – a “mercury safe” protocol:
- Is the Doctor certified in the Huggins-Grube protocol? If yes, the doctor will have a certificate in the office, and will be listed on the website for Huggins.
- How does the Dr. chose the sequence for the removal of the mercury?
- Does the Dr. test for mercury toxicity?
- Is the Dr. A member of the IAOMT (International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology) or the HDA (Holistic Dental Association)? If yes, they will be listed on the website of these groups.
- Do they have a mercury vacuum?
- Do they provide supplemental oxygen with a oxygen mask?
- Does the Dr. wear a mercury mask themself?
- Does the Dr. use a rubberdam (latex-free) and a clean up suction ?
- What does the Dr. replace the mercury filling with? Is it biocompatible? How does the Dr. ensure that?
- What does the Dr. provide you with to aid in the detox of the mercury following the revision? (If needed)
These questions will help you select a doctor who is properly trained in mercury removal. Dr. Vane can answer “yes” to all of these questions! Contact us today for a mercury revision consultation.