What is Safe Mercury Removal?

New research about the dangers of mercury filling removal has brought to light some alarming facts about the process and its effects on patients, dentists, dental workers, and the environment. In order to minimize the risks of mercury vapor and particulate inhalation during treatment the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) created the SMART (Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique) protocol.

SMART is a specific set of safety measures used to reduce mercury exposures during dental amalgam filling removal. Once the mercury restoration is safely removed, we can then replace it with a more biocompatible material to restore the tooth. The SMART protocol uses detailed scientifically proven protective measures to safely remove amalgam fillings while capturing mercury vapors, and reducing exposure to toxins in the air and particle matter significantly. If you are looking for ways to reduce risks during your dental care, it is essential to find out if your dentist uses SMART mercury removal in their office. Did you know that less than 1% of dentists have this certification?

Why is Safe Mercury Removal needed?

Dental amalgam fillings are made with a mixture of mercury, silver, copper, tin, and sometimes zinc. Often called “silver fillings,” all dental amalgams are 45-55% elemental mercury. Mercury is toxic, and this poison is recognized by the World Health Organization as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern. Mercury accumulates in the body, and any amount of mercury taken into the body should be considered hazardous.

This mercury can leak over time with regular brushing, flossing, clenching or even eating and drinking. Mercury vapor that is caused by these activities can be harmful to the patient, and can even be detrimental to the health of the fetus of pregnant patients. For this reason, we often recommend to our patients that they have their old amalgam fillings removed and replaced as soon as possible.

Who is a candidate for Safe Mercury Removal?

If you have amalgam fillings in your mouth right now, you're already a good candidate to have them removed. We believe mercury (a neurotoxin) is not safe for any individual. The FDA states amalgam fillings may pose a greater health risk to certain populations.

The typical removal method involves drilling out each filling, piece by piece—meaning that large amounts of mercury vapor are expelled into the immediate area around you during the procedure. This not only puts you at risk; it also poses a significant risk to Dr. Grabiak and his staff. Exposure to mercury may pose a greater health risk in certain groups of people, who may be more susceptible to potential adverse effects generally associated with mercury. These high-risk populations include:

  • Pregnant women and their developing fetuses;
  • Women who are planning to become pregnant;
  • Nursing women and their newborns and infants;
  • Children, especially those younger than six years of age;
  • People with pre-existing neurological disease;
  • People with impaired kidney function;
  • People with known heightened sensitivity (allergy) to mercury or other components (silver, copper, tin) of dental amalgam.

What happens during the Safe Mercury Removal process?

Prior to the removal process Dr. Grabiak will discuss with you a one week, two-step protocol designed to support the body in detoxifying and removing mercury and other heavy metals during the removal of dental amalgams. The appointment begins with a charcoal rinse and vitals. In order to protect our patient’s skin and clothing from potential exposure, a full body, impermeable barrier, as well as a full head/face/neck barrier and non-latex dental dam will be utilized. Medical grade oxygen delivered by a nasal mask will be utilized to assure the patient does not inhale any mercury vapor or amalgam debri during the procedure. A saliva ejector will be placed under the dental dam to reduce mercury exposure to the patient.

During the amalgam filling removal, Dr. Grabaik will utilize an at source oral aerosol vacuum in close proximity to the operating field. (i.e., two to four inches from the patient’s mouth) to mitigate mercury exposure. Copious amounts of ozone water to reduce heat  along with a high speed evacuation device to capture mercury discharges are required to reduce ambient mercury levels. 

The amalgam will be sectioned into chunks and removed in as large of pieces as possible. This practice minimizes excess potential for mercury exposure. Once the removal process is complete, the patient’s mouth is thoroughly flushed with water and then rinsed out with a slurry of charcoal, chlorella or similar adsorbent.

To ensure safe disposal of mercury for our environment an amalgam separator is properly installed, utilized, and maintained to collect mercury amalgam waste so that it is not released into the effluent from the dental office. Additionally each room where mercury fillings are removed adequate filtration is in place, which requires a high-volume air filtration system capable of removing mercury vapor and amalgam particles generated during the removal of one or more mercury fillings.

If you have amalgam (metal) fillings and would like to have them removed, call our office today so that we can help schedule you with an appointment.

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