|What is the difference between mercury free dentistry and mercury safe dentistry?
by Dr. Tom Zyvoloski
Many people underestimate the health risks of mercury. They know that it’s in tuna, and some know that mercury is in their silver amalgam fillings. But what most people are not aware of is that there is no safe level of mercury exposure. Mercury is more toxic than lead, cadmium or even arsenic. It is the most toxic, non-radioactive element on the earth. Just one atom of mercury is harmful to the body, and the greatest source of mercury exposure might already be in your mouth.
Is the single greatest source of mercury exposure in your mouth?
Mercury makes up to 50 percent of silver dental amalgam fillings, which also contain silver, copper and tin. Not only are silver amalgam fillings the single greatest source of mercury exposure, they also continuously release poisonous mercury vapor. When removed without any precautions, a dental patient can be exposed to large amounts of mercury vapor which could lead to health complications described below.
A close-up example of a tooth with amalgam filling.
What is the difference between mercury free dentistry and mercury safe dentistry?
Currently there are many dental offices that have become mercury free. Mercury free simply means that the dental office does not offer silver amalgam fillings as part of their dental services. A dental office that is mercury safe; however, takes the health concerns with mercury several steps further. A mercury safe office does not offer silver dental amalgams, and more importantly, if an old silver amalgam needs removal, they assure that it is removed safely. Most people assume that having a silver amalgam filling removed does not present any health safety concerns, but how they’re removed is what’s really important. Having a silver amalgam filling removed can expose a person to mercury levels at least 1,000 times the World Health Organization’s safe level of exposure. When this procedure is performed in a mercury-safe environment, though, mercury exposure can be significantly reduced.
What is Mercury-Safe Amalgam Removal?
When mercury fillings are removed, there is an out-gassing that takes place during the grinding process because of the heat and friction. It’s unsafe for the patient and the dentist if not managed properly. The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) has a list of safety guidelines when removing old mercury fillings.
IAOMT Mercury-Safe Amalgam Removal Procedures may include:
•Placing a rubber dam to isolate the tooth from the rest of the mouth
•Putting the patient on pure oxygen to ensure clean air intake
•Utilizing a high tech air purifier to suck in the mercury vapor for proper disposal
•Operating a vacuum system at maximum efficiency
•Applying copious amounts of water to the filling during removal
•Removing the amalgam in large segments to minimize the generation of mercury vapor and amalgam particulate
•Providing the patient and dental staff with a mercury-free source of air
•Protecting the environment with approved mercury recycling equipment
What kind of technology is used for mercury-safe dentistry?
Because the harmful properties of mercury are released in the form of vapors, mercury-safe dentistry is performed with the use of high tech air purification systems that are designed to sit close to the mouth area and suck out mercury vapor so a patient doesn’t inhale it during the procedure. Many mercury safe offices also have air ionization systems to help purify the air even further.
What are the health risks of having mercury in my body?
Mercury in amalgam fillings can be linked to a variety of health complications including dysfunction in the immune system, multiple sclerosis, kidney ailments, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, reproductive issues, cardiovascular problems, absorption of heavy metals in the brain, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, antibiotic resistance, hearing loss, and a myriad of other health problems, according to a “The Toxic Effects of The Mercury in Dental Amalgam Fillings on The Environment and Human Health”, a fact sheet prepared by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT).
Does mercury have side effects on women and children?
Mercury’s dangerous effects on women and children have been well documented, and the governments of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark have already banned the use of mercury fillings in Dentistry, the IAOMT report said.
“Scientific studies proving the devastating impact of mercury on pregnant woman and children are abundant, which is why pregnant women and children are advised not to eat certain types of seafood that might contain methyl mercury,” the IAOMT report said. “Mercury has been found to be a factor in autism, and as such dental amalgam fillings (maternal) have been directly linked to autism as well.”
Dr. Tom Zyvoloski is an IAOMT member dentist offering mercury-safe dentistry at Studio Z Dental in Louisville, CO. Studio Z Dental is a holistic family dental practice emphasizing aesthetic excellence.
“Mercury in your mouth” can sound pretty scary. Curious how the mercury safe process works? Learn more about our mercury-safe dentistry practice and equipment, and contact Studio Z for more information.