by Linda J. Golden, DDS
Pro-amalgam dentists would have us believe that the mere strength of silver or amalgam fillings should
outweigh all the harmful effects of mercury, which may be released in these fillings. Thus, they make no effort in working in a mercury-safe environment and continue to use mercury in dental fillings. Other dentists try to keep a mercury-free environment by not using amalgam fillings in dental restorations. However, this alone is not enough in protecting the patient and all others present in the dental surgery from mercury.
The ideal mercury-free dental surgery has no mercury or amalgam at all. When a mercury-free dentist is tasked to remove old amalgam fillings in some patients, stringent measures are employed to ensure the safety of the procedure.
To begin with, a mercury-free dental surgery should be equipped with an air purification system, which removes all mercury fumes released during the removal process. This would protect staff of the dental clinic as well as other patients present in the surgery.
The patient and the dental staff performing the procedure may also be given alternate sources of air, such as oxygen masks, to prevent inhalation of mercury fumes.
During the procedure, a rubber dam should be securely placed around the teeth involved to prevent swallowing of harmful amalgam particles. Again, a high-volume suction evacuator should be used in the process to quickly remove all particles and fumes emanating from the amalgam filling.
High amounts of heat are generated during removal of amalgam fillings, and not only does this heat release more mercury fumes but, in extreme cases, it also causes pulpal death of the tooth involved. While drilling into these fillings, the mercury-free dentist therefore ensures that the amalgam filling and the drilling bur are cooled with a constant stream of water.
Mercury-free dentists also believe in removing old amalgam fillings in chunks. This allows for removal of whole portions of the fillings to significantly reduce the release of mercury.
Throughout the process, the mercury-free dentist considers the safety of the patients and all others present. This makes the somewhat dreadful thought of amalgam replacement a safe and necessary part of routine dental practice. We are pleased that these steps are ardently adhered to at Golden Dental Wellness Center, and we continuously seek to provide the best care for our patients.
Source: Linda J. Golden, DDS, of Golden Dental Wellness Center (444 Community Dr., Ste. 204, Manhasset). For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 516-627-8400.