Dental amalgam, sometimes called a “silver filling” due to its silver color, is a mixture of mercury, zinc copper, tin, and silver used in various dental restorations. Mercury is a highly toxic metal and affects the immune system, the central nervous system, the thyroid gland and other body systems. Still, dental amalgams are widely used because they are strong, durable, and less expensive than other filling materials. At Whole Health Dentistry, Dr. Copeland uses only biocompatible materials due to these potentially harmful effects and because she recognizes that oral health and overall health are inextricably linked.
Removal of metal amalgam fillings
Rising patient awareness about the toxicity of mercury (which makes up approximately half of metal amalgam fillings) has led to a growing number of patients interested in having their metal amalgam fillings removed and replaced with a safer alternative. However, it is vital that you work with a dentist equipped with the right equipment and follows rigorous safety protocols during the amalgam removal process because it can release harmful mercury into your body and the air if not performed properly.
At Whole Health Dentistry, we follow the SMART (Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique) protocol for amalgam removal that has been set forth by the International Academy of Oral Health and Toxicology. This protocol incorporates several different methods that all work in tandem to protect patients, dental staff, and the environment from mercury exposure during the removal process.
- Providing a slurry of chlorella, charcoal, or a similar adsorbent for the patient to rinse and swallow before the procedure
- Full body, impermeable barrier, as well as full head/face/neck barrier
- External oxygen delivered nasal cannula completely covered with a barrier
- Use of a non-latex nitrile dental dam that is placed in the patient’s mouth and properly sealed
- Placement of a saliva ejector under the dental dam
- Oral aerosol vacuum placed near the patient’s mouth
- Reducing heat through the use of a large volume of water
- Capturing mercury discharges with a conventional high speed evacuation device
- Protective gowns and covers for the dentist and dental personnel
- Non-latex nitrile gloves for the dentist and dental personnel
- Face shields and hair/head coverings for the dentist and dental personnel
- Dental staff utilize the appropriate personal protective equipment when opening and maintaining suction traps
Office & Environmental Protection
- An amalgam separator that is properly installed, utilized, and maintained
- High-volume air filtration system
- Open windows to reduce the mercury concentration in the air
- Compliance with federal, state, and local regulations addressing the proper handling, cleaning, and/or disposal of mercury-contaminated components, clothing, equipment, surfaces of the room, and flooring in the dental office
Benefits of composite fillings
Composite fillings are a modern alternative to metal amalgam that offers several benefits over traditional silver fillings. BPA-free composite fillings are:
- Natural-looking: Composite material is tooth-colored, so it blends in with your teeth when smiling and speaking for a natural appearance.
- Biocompatible and mercury-free: Composite is a non-reactive, non-toxic material that works in harmony with your body; it also expands and contracts at the same rate that normal tooth structure does, reducing the possibility of tooth fractures due to expansion when exposed to hot or cold temperatures
- Durable: The composite material forms a better, more durable bond with the tooth surface, which reduces the possibility of the filling breaking, falling out, or letting bacteria and plaque infiltrate beneath the surface.
- Conservative: Due to how composite fillings are applied and bonded to the tooth, less of the natural tooth structure needs to be removed prior to placing the filling than would be required for a metal amalgam filling.
Learn more in a comprehensive exam
If you are interested in having your metal amalgam fillings removed and replaced with biocompatible, tooth-colored composite fillings that not only look better but are healthier for your mouth, call Whole Health Dentistry today! Dr. Cynthia Copeland will evaluate your current fillings and provide you with all of the information you need to know about the removal process, including the cost and what to expect during your treatment. Our office is conveniently located in Santa Barbara, CA, and can text us at +1 (855) 441-0001.
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