Safe Mercury Removal: The SMART Method

If you have mercury fillings in your mouth, should you have them removed?

Numerous studies have shown mercury exposure can have a cumulative toxic effect on humans. Many people have even stopped eating certain fish to avoid exposure to increased mercury. It’s natural to be concerned about your amalgam fillings, but are they dangerous? Should you have them removed?

Let’s look at the facts. Not all forms of mercury are equally toxic. Methyl mercury, a compound formed when mercury combines with organic molecules is the most dangerous form of mercury. This is the form of mercury most often found in large fish like salmon and tuna. Methyl mercury can accumulate in the body’s tissues and can damage various organ systems.

But what about your silver amalgam dental fillings? Dental amalgam uses elemental mercury. Dentists mix the liquid form with a powder of other metals like silver, tin and copper to create a pliable paste. When placed in a tooth to cover a cavity, the amalgam hardens into a compound.

Dental amalgam restorations, commonly known as silver fillings, contain approximately 50% mercury. Research demonstrates that, over time, these fillings emit trace amounts of mercury vapors. The amounts of these vapors are well-below harmful levels. It is believed that these vapors are released from dental mercury amalgam fillings at higher rates during brushing, cleaning and chewing. A multitude of studies report that there are no demonstrable negative effects due to mercury amalgam.

Goodness Dental is a leading clinic for holistic and biological dentistry in Costa Rica. We treat patients that seek the most bio-compatible solutions for their dental care. For most patients, silver fillings are probably quite safe and unless they are bothersome or unsightly, we generally advise patients to leave them alone. However, if you still want your silver amalgam fillings removed for health or cosmetic reasons, it’s best to use the recommended protocol for safe removal of mercury fillings. The IAOMT (International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology) recommends the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART).

Goodness Dental is ranked the #1 dental clinic in Costa Rica and is recognized as a leader in safe mercury amalgam removal. Traditional safe amalgam removal techniques include the use of masks, water irrigation, and high- volume suction to remove the amalgam from the patient’s oral cavity as quickly as possible after removal.

The following additional protective measures may also be recommended to increase patient safety.

  • Each room should have adequate filtration capable of removing mercury vapor and amalgam particles generated during the removal of mercury fillings. Clinic windows should be opened to reduce the mercury concentration in the air. The key is to encourage the flow of fresh air during the mercury removal process. (Goodness Dental locations have balconies and large windows that allow patients to breathe fresh clean air during the mercury amalgam removal process.)
  • Protective gowns and covers for the dentist, dental personnel, and the patient.
  • Protective gloves should be utilized by the dentist and all dental personnel in the room.
  • Face shields and hair/head coverings should be utilized by the dentist and all dental personnel. A mask may be used by the dentist to reduce changes of accidental inhalation.
  • A dental dam should be placed and properly sealed in the patient’s mouth.
  • High speed evacuation of the amalgam and saliva is preferred.
  • it is recommended that the dentist use large amounts of water to reduce any heat associated with amalgam removal.
  • The mercury amalgam should be removed in large pieces if possible.
  • Upon completion of the mercury amalgam removal process, the patient’s mouth should be thoroughly flushed with water to remove any residue.

All reasonable precautions are taken to ensure the safety of patients and dental staff during this procedure. For more information about other bio-dentistry procedures such as metal-free fillings, metal-free crowns and metal-free dentures at Goodness Dental, please call (866) 406-2744 to speak with one of our dental staff.