The toothy trouble with amalgam fillings; our safe and holistic approach to cavity repair
The Department of Health in Victoria characterises mercury as a natural substance whose “major threat” to our health comes from mercury poisoning and the inhalation of mercury vapour. To protect against the adverse health effects of mercury, the government further states environmental exposure or risks must be minimised.
Common environmental sources, acknowledged by the state, include certain species of fish and, of interest to Smile in Style and our valued patients, dental fillings. Notably, amalgam fillings contain mercury and do present a risk of exposure. However, not all fillings are a threat. For this reason, our offices in Moonee Ponds and Sunbury place non-toxic and attractive metal-free dental fillings as a common and essential form of cavity repair. These fillings do not contain amalgam.
The trouble with dental amalgam
“Amalgam” refers to the combination of metals used to make the filling. These metals include silver, copper, zinc, and tin. However, far and away, the most prevalent material in these silver-coloured fillings is mercury. It’s estimated that, on average, each filling is ~50% liquid or elemental mercury by weight. The mercury in our fillings can accumulate in bodily tissues and organs over time. The health department has isolated a few of the many symptoms and conditions associated with elemental mercury poisoning, including:
- Persistent migraines and headaches
- Insomnia and poor sleep quality
- Muscle tremors and weakness
- Depressed moods, irritability
- Kidney dysfunction
- Depressed respiratory function
As noted, mercury vapours also present a significant health threat. Mercury is released as fine particles and vapour during the “standard” process of removing amalgam fillings. Due to this, Dr Terry Rose and our team at Smile in Style take special precautions to remove mercury-containing fillings. We have invested in training on many different biological- and holistic-focused protocols. Additionally, our investments span an array of technologies, equipment, and supplies to protect our patients, staff, and the planet.
It should be noted that mercury also represents a threat to our waterways and wildlife. When not handled properly, it can wreak havoc on our water supplies. As responsible neighbours, and environmental and community stewards, we abide by the following safe and healthy processes and procedures:
- Application of protective products, such as a non-latex rubber dam, to prevent particulate matter from being swallowed as the filling is broken down and removed
- Administration of supplemental oxygen to further minimise the inhalation of mercury as a vapour
- Use of a high-volume evacuation suction as well as air suction to remove particulates and vapour
- Use of techniques such as removing the filling in larger chunks with cool water, as opposed to smaller pieces that generate greater particles and heat (increasing mercury exposure risks)
- Removal of mercury from the treatment room and office with the use of air purification systems
Of course, this is just a partial list of the ways that we support safe mercury amalgam removal and handling. To experience our advanced and holistic approach to supporting oral health and overall well-being for yourself, schedule an appointment at Smile in Style today.