In the past, it was common practice for dentists to use mercury filled fillings to treat cavities. While these types of fillings helped to prevent the spread of tooth decay, they proved to be toxic and eventually caused a number of serious health problems. Now, people are having those fillings removed and replaced with safer fillings made of composite or ceramic.
What people don’t realize when having mercury fillings and other dental components removed is there is an entire safety protocol that must be followed. Safety protocols must be followed in an effort to keep the dentist, dental staff, patient, and environment safe.
We will take a look at some of the steps dental clinics must take in order to properly dispose of mercury components.
Proper Collection and Disposal of Mercury Components
The first step of proper collection and disposal of mercury components is to collect the amalgam. Collection of the amalgam must be done carefully as it can prove hazardous to the patient and dental staff. Once removed from the mouth, the mercury component is placed into a separate, airtight container.
Dentists will continue to fill up the container until it is completely full. When the container is full, it will be carefully sealed and shipped off to a certified recycler. Not just anyone can recycle amalgam or mercury components. The recycler must go through specialized training and be approved to dispose of mercury or amalgam.
How Smiles by Shields Disposes and Removes Amalgam Materials
Smiles by Shields, a holistic dental clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, understands the importance of properly disposing of mercury components and amalgam materials. That is why we have gone through advanced training to become SMART-certified. SMART certification is awarded by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. The training we go through shows us how to properly remove and dispose of these potentially toxic materials in a way that is safe for everyone.
Some of the things we do as a dental practice to safely remove and dispose of mercury components and amalgam materials is:
- Entire dental team, including the dental hygienists and dentist, wear protective clothing when removing amalgam or mercury. The protective clothing includes non-latex gloves, sealed respiratory masks, and protective gowns and head coverings.
- Patients are given the same protective clothing. The clothing includes head coverings, mask to cover the face, and gown.
- Oxygen is administered to the patient through a nasal mask. This prevents the patient from accidentally inhaling any vapor that is created from the mercury.
- A mouthpiece is inserted into the mouth. It will prevent any particles from being swallowed or accidentally falling into the mouth during the removal of the filling.
- A chlorella or charcoal rinse is given to patients. This serves as a protective barrier against any mercury that may be exposed during the removal process.
- An oral vacuum is placed near the mouth to suck up any mercury vapor. This is an additional precaution.
- Fillings are cut into several sections to make the removal process easier.
- Removal of the filling involves using a lot of water. This reduces any heat in the mouth. Heat often creates a dangerous mercury vapor.
- A specialized amalgam separator is used. This keeps the amalgam safe until it can be properly disposed of. The separator prevents amalgam from polluting the environment by entering the water or soil.
- All rooms in the office have high-volume air filters. This helps remove additional vapors from the air.
- Patient’s mouths are completely rinsed with lots of water after the amalgam filling removal process.
- Upon completion, gowns and masks are disposed and equipment is cleaned
If you live in the Jacksonville, Florida area and are interested in having amalgam fillings removed, feel free to call Smiles by Shields to schedule an appointment. We are SMART-certified through the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. We will not only remove any mercury components or silver amalgam, but we will do so in a manner that is safe for you, our staff, and the environment.
Call us today to schedule an appointment to speak with Dr. Shields about having any amalgam or mercury fillings removed.