Safe Mercury Dental Filling Removal

By Dr. Kaveh Ghaboussi

Do you hate the look of your black fillings?  Do you worry they may be related to some health issues?  At Madison Smile Solutions we are a mercury-free dental office.  We treat our each of our patients like family therefore we don’t place mercury fillings and we offer safety precautions when removing them.  So many people have different views on if these types of filling are safe.  In today’s tooth talk I’d like to educate you on the types of dental fillings available and the extra steps Madison Smile Solutions offers to you if interested.

What is dental amalgam?

Dental amalgam is a very strong and durable dental filling material. It is an alloy composed of a mixed powder of approximately 40% to 50% silver, tin, copper and, in some cases, smaller amounts of zinc, palladium or indium bound by up to 60% of elemental liquid mercury. Dental amalgam fillings are gray or silver in color and are sometimes referred to as silver fillings or mercury fillings. Many of our patients still have these types of fillings because they were the only type of filling available for many years. 

What are the disadvantages of dental amalgam?

The disadvantages of dental amalgam as a restorative material include:

  • Esthetics – Dental amalgam does not mimic tooth color and often changes color from silver to black.
  • Sacrifice of healthy tooth structure – Removal of large areas of healthy tooth structure is required solely for adequate retention and strength of the dental amalgam.
  • Weakening of the tooth – Dental amalgam expands over time and may lead to significant tooth fracture especially since dental amalgam is typically used in large load bearing areas.
  • Higher incidence of thermal sensitivity – Metal is a good conductor of cold and heat to the nerve of the tooth.
  • Set Time – Dental amalgams do not harden immediately. Patients should avoid chewing on newly placed dental amalgams for approximately 24 hours while the material reaches its maximum strength.
  • Presence of bound elemental mercury and other metals – Concerns regarding toxicity and allergy are growing among patients.

Is dental amalgam safe?

Ever since dental amalgam was first introduced in the 1800’s there has been some concern regarding its safety. When dental amalgam fillings are placed in teeth or removed from teeth, they release mercury vapor. Mercury vapor is also released during chewing. Many people are concerned that this mercury vapor can cause a variety of health problems. I would not place this type of filling in my child or wife so I don’t offer them at my office. 

Why I don’t place dental amalgam fillings?

1.  My goal is to restore teeth to their most natural appearance. Tooth-colored fillings far more effective in accomplishing this objective.

2.  Tooth-colored fillings do not require the removal of healthy tooth structure in order to ensure strength and/or retention.

3.  Tooth-colored fillings may be repaired, where appropriate, while dental amalgams cannot. Repairs result in fewer traumas to the nerve of the tooth.

4.  Large Mercury Amalgam fillings predispose teeth to fracture.

5.  The tooth fractures caused by the expansion of Mercury Amalgam over time can be avoided by using alternative dental filling materials.

6.  Many patients have concerns over the use of Mercury in dental filling material and I would not use it for my family members so I don’t place it on my patients either.

What are my Options for Fillings then?

Tooth-Colored Fillings (White Fillings) & Porcelain Restorations are better options for fillings in my opinion.

Tooth-colored fillings, also called white fillings, are dental fillings that restore and mimic the natural appearance of tooth structure. In addition to restoring teeth that have fractured or decayed, tooth colored fillings may also be used cosmetically to change the size, color and shape of teeth. This quality is particularly useful in closing gaps between teeth; repairing chipped teeth and making teeth appear to be more straight or even. 

What are the advantages of tooth-colored fillings and porcelain restorations?

  • They closely match natural tooth color and appearance.
  • They bond to tooth structure chemically and thus do not require the placement of slots, grooves or pins in healthy tooth structure to mechanically retain them.
  • The bonding of white fillings to the tooth restores 85% - 95% of the original strength of the tooth.
  • They completely harden in seconds instead of days required by Mercury Amalgam fillings.
  • Tooth sensitivity, if any, is rare and brief when it does occur.
  • They may be used on front and back teeth without compromising esthetics.
  • If damaged they can be repaired.

Should you have your Mercury Amalgam fillings removed?

The answer to this question will be different for each person. Although there is no scientific evidence that removing your amalgam fillings and replacing them with other dental filling materials will improve your health, many patients are eager to have the material removed from their mouths for health reasons anyway, or because they just don’t like the way it looks, and that’s ok. For some patients the peace of mind the Mercury Amalgam removal brings them is worth it. It makes intuitive sense to me that some people may have an allergic hypersensitivity to one or more of the metallic components however this has not been proven.

Are their Safety Precautions for Removing the Mercury Fillings?

We offer a Safe Mercury Removal Protocol for our patients.  During this appointment we do everything on our side to prevent the absorption of mercury and assist with detoxifying.

This includes: 

  • Room air purifiers
  • Use a rubber damn to act as barrier
  • Use a high volume suction to safely evacuate mercury vapor
  • Provide oxygen as an alternative air source for the patient to breath
  • Offer nutritional support and detoxification before, during and after amalgam removal

Call Madison Smile Solutions 608-227-7000and schedule your FREE Consultation or click here for more information.