See What Makes Our Tooth Fillings So Good
When I got out of dental school, I went back to my original learning, if you will, from engineering school about materials. And mercury filling material or silver fillings as they’re often known as are malleable, which means you pound on them, they spread out sideways. Mercury fillings are awesome for putting cracks in teeth. If you don’t want cracks in teeth, mercury fillings should be replaced.
We replace mercury fillings, unfortunately, often after a tooth is broken. And if we can see the problem developing before that happens, the mercury filling can be removed, the tooth can be restored with whatever is necessary to keep it from splitting or breaking apart, and we’d avoid tooth loss with that process.
Now, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology has come up with a protocol, a way of removing mercury fillings. It’s called the SMART protocol. It’s Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique. And we follow specialty process in doing that so that there is no recontamination, if you will, of the patient during that process. We have nasal oxygen that is applied. We use something that’s called a rubber dam for isolation. So, all of the material that’s removed from the tooth does not have a chance to fall to the back of your throat to you choke on.
I remember that as a kid having mercury fillings placed. And two days after the filling was placed in my mouth I’m coughing up pieces of silver. Now, during the removal process, we avoid that from happening by use of the rubber dam. We also have a dental version similar to a Shop Vac if you will, a large vacuum cleaner that’s kept off the corner of the chin.
The purpose there is to capture particles and vapors that come in from the mercury fillings during the removal. It goes through a mercury filter and a HEPA filter, then it recirculates into the room. We use that to help protect us as dental personnel during that process of removal. We also use high-volume suction cold water to keep things cool and to minimize the vapors coming off the mercury fillings.
We do a divide and conquer, if you will, of the mercury fillings, taking them out in chunks, not grinding it out all into a powder, which minimizes the amount of mercury exposure for both us as personnel in the office and patients having that done.
We’ve had patients that have gone through testing or evaluation because they’ve been concerned about mercury fillings prior to seeing us. And they had blood tests run to see was there any contamination that occurred during that process, and no, there wasn’t any.
Another part of that process is to have a activated charcoal slurry rinse beforehand and some is swallowed as well. So, if there’s any area around that rubber isolation step that we have, if there’s any mercury that escapes beyond that, the activated charcoal absorbs that. So, it’s our effort to try and make it as perfect as possible to do Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal.