Many years ago when you needed to have a tooth filled, dentists would use a material known as amalgam. Created using a combination of metals that included mercury, amalgam was thought to be a healthy, strong alternative for patients who needed to have cavities filled. That has changed.
Dentists and many health advocacy groups have noticed that patients with amalgam fillings tended to exhibit a number of health problems. Those health problems, which ranged from headaches and digestive issues to anxiety, cancer, and kidney disease, can often to be connected to mercury poisoning which occurs when vapors are created by the amalgam fillings. Recent awareness of just how dangerous amalgam fillings can be has caused many people to look into having these old, silver fillings replaced.
The process used to remove amalgam fillings is fairly complex. The amalgam fillings cannot just simply be removed and a new, safer composite filling placed. Instead, a dentist must use a specific procedure to safely remove the amalgam filling. This specific procedure is necessary to guarantee the safety of not only the patient, but any dental staff that may be present during the removal process.
If you are considering having an amalgam filling removed, it may help you to understand the process that is involved. The following is a closer look at the removal process for amalgam fillings.
The Need to Keep the Amalgam Filling Cool
A lot of heat is created when a dentist starts to drill out the amalgam filling. The heat caused by drilling can heat up the amalgam filling. When the filling is heated, mercury vapors are created. Those unsafe mercury vapors can be inhaled by both patient and dental staff.
In an effort to keep everyone safe during the filling removal process, dentists and their staff work effortlessly to keep the amalgam material cool. To keep the material cool, dental staff will use a combination of water and dry air.
The Amalgam Filling is Cut into Chunks
Dentists, instead of removing the amalgam filling as a single piece, will take the time to cut it into small pieces. Cutting the amalgam filling into pieces may seem like more work, but it is safer.
Cutting the filling into pieces means the dentist will have to do less drilling. Less drilling means there is a dramatic decrease in the amount of mercury vapors that are created during the removal process.
Remove Mercury Vapor and Amalgam Particles with an Evacuator
An evacuator is a high powered suction system that can quickly and effectively remove everything from amalgam particles to mercury vapor. When removing an amalgam filling, a high volume evacuator should be used as it will dramatically reduce a patient’s exposure to mercury vapor and harmful amalgam particles.
Use of a Rubber Dam
A rubber dam is a flexible dental device that can be used during the filling removal process. It is uniquely designed to completely isolate any tooth that is being worked on.
Using a rubber dam during the filling removal process can help protect a patient from some of the harmful mercury vapors. It won’t completely protect a patient, but when used in combination with an evacuator, the chunk removal process, air, and water, the filling removal process is completely safe.
Visit a Dentist who is Skilled and Knowledgeable of Safe Amalgam Removal Procedures
The process involved in safely removing an amalgam filling is complex. It is important that should you wish to have an amalgam filling removed that you visit with a dentist who is skilled and knowledgeable in the process that is involved. If you live in the Jacksonville, Florida area, you can visit Dr. Tiffany K. Shields at Smiles by Shields.
Dr. Tiffany K. Shields is a holistic dentist who has undergone the training and education necessary to know how to properly and safely remove amalgam fillings. Once the filling is removed, Dr. Shields will place a tooth-colored composite filling in its place.
In addition to safe amalgam removal, our holistic dental office offers preventative dental exams, cleanings, and a number of other holistic dental procedures.
Call our office today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shields or to learn more about our holistic approach to dentistry.