There has been a growing debate between dentists about the safety of mercury amalgam fillings. Studies show that the stimulation of these silver fillings through grinding and chewing can release mercury vapour which can be harmful for the patient’s lungs and cause health hazards. As a result, several dentists have discontinued using silver amalgams in their practice, while others still continue to do so.
The term ‘Mercury Free’ came in to use to describe these dentists who did not use mercury amalgams and instead opted for safer methods such as composite fillings. However, this didn’t guarantee that such dentists would also employ safe processes while removing the amalgams from their patients’ teeth. This is noteworthy because unsafe removal processes can release high levels of toxic mercury vapour which can be harmful not just for the patient but also for the dentist, office staff and the environment.
In order to reduce the effects of mercury vapour, several ‘Mercury Free’ dentists started developing safe processes and specialized equipment to remove amalgams from the patient’s teeth. Many employed safe practices only for the patient and didn’t bother to make it safe for the environment, the dentist and staff. Likewise, others ensured safe removal practises for the dentist and environment while ignoring the safety of the patient completely. Such dentists started calling themselves ‘Mercury Safe’ even though they were only partially safe.
Dentists need to ensure their clinics are completely ‘Mercury Safe’ by protecting the patient, environment, dentist and staff during the dental filling procedures.
Therefore, dental clinics can be truly ‘Mercury Safe’ is they take efforts to:
- Employ safe amalgam removal procedures
- Use safe and specialised equipment
- Educate and train their staff
- Provide maximum protection to their patients, dentists, staff and environment
A patient should always look for a clinic that is not just ‘Mercury Free’ but also ‘Mercury Safe’. To assume that a ‘Mercury Free’ clinic is also ‘Mercury Safe’ is not advisable. Ask your dentist if his/her clinic is ‘Mercury Safe’ also. Only then will you be able to prevent diseases related to mercury poisoning such as:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
So the next time you are worried about the safety of dental filling procedures performed by your dentist, consider the above points to protect yourself and make a wise choice.