Within the context of this very big subject, today let’s explore the essential safety steps your dental team should use while removing mercury amalgam fillings.
As a foundation for this article, we are going to assume you are aware that mercury amalgam fillings put us at risk for mercury toxicity.
We’re also going to assume that you realize that dental offices can apply different safety protocols to remove mercury fillings.
The fact is, most dental offices (in the US, at least) don’t apply the latest mercury amalgam safety protocols (that have been created by dentists who are more aware of the risks associated with mercury vapor exposure during mercury removal).
In other words, not all dentists are created equal.
One dental office’s procedure for this can be much, much different than another. It’s really up to the dental staff’s education and awareness of the relative toxic nature of some of the commonly used tools (like mercury amalgam fillings) in their industry.
It’s also up to each of us to educate ourselves with the necessary protocols we want our dental team to use for this important health milestone.
Ok, so as a baseline, let’s say you (or someone you love) has mercury amalgam fillings and you want to research the protocols a dental team needs to apply to minimize the risk of being poisoned during the procedure. We are honored to serve you during your search for information on this important subject.
Before we detail the protocols that a qualified dental team should apply, let’s take just a moment to quickly address two common questions.
Where’s the proof that mercury vapor comes off mercury amalgam fillings?
We’re able to use this video courtesy of one of our main mentors, Dr David Kennedy. (Please excuse the very old intro. It’s from the free online summit we produced in 2012.)
It’s a bit long, so unless you really want ‘the full dose’, it’s not necessary to watch the whole video. But if you have any question about whether amalgam fillings really off-gas mercury vapor, we encourage you to watch the first 5 minutes right now.
Where’s the proof that we absorb mercury from fillings?
Ok, so mercury amalgam fillings off-gas mercury vapor. Where’s the proof that we absorb this mercury?
In 2011, the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation published a study titled, “Changes in health complaints after removal of amalgam fillings”. In that study, researchers tested levels of mercury in blood serum and urine from study participants. Researchers tested both before and after the patients had their mercury amalgam fillings removed.
According to the scientists who published this study, mercury concentration in both serum and urine was significantly reduced after amalgam removal.
“There was a significant decrease in mercury concentration in serum and urine following the removal of amalgam fillings.”
With these in place, let’s cover the essential steps to protect oneself from mercury exposure during mercury amalgam filling removal.
Find the right dental team to help you.
Bottom line, we don’t know what we don’t know.
In this particular situation, we must ask our dental team the right questions to be certain the team is ideally equipped to help keep us (and themselves) safe during this procedure.
That’s exactly why we created the OraWellness Guide to Safe Dentistry. It’s a resource guide you can download right here, for free.
Originally titled, ‘Questions to ask your dentist’, the e-book covers a series of questions you can ask your current dental team or prospective teams you interview to find the ideal team to help you safely navigate this toxic procedure. Download the OraWellness Guide to Safe Dentistry here.
Make sure it’s a calmer period of time.
Ok, maybe that’s not based in reality, but try to avoid having your mercury fillings removed right before a time of year that tends to raise your stress levels. For many folks, an example of a high-stress time is the holiday season.
You get what we’re saying. Even though your team is going to follow protocols to keep the exposure to a minimum, removing the mercury amalgams does increase our risk of exposure, and doing so during a high stress time adds an extra burden to your body.
Make sure your detox pathways are functioning well.
We want to make sure that all of our detox pathways are running smoothly to help our body remove any mercury. Some of our main detox pathways include the kidneys, liver, bowels, skin and lungs. We plan to write an article dedicated to this specific point soon.
In the meantime, here’s a quick list of tips to get you started:
- Stay hydrated.
- Eat foods that will support healthy bowel activity.
- Practice some deep breathing.
- If you have access to a sauna, use it.
An easy step is to take some activated charcoal and a natural toxin-binder/absorbent like chlorella before going into the dental office. Having these natural binders in your stomach can help ‘grab’ any mercury that makes it into your system.
Also, we always increase B vitamin intake when we know we’re heading into a situation that can be stressful.
If you’re prone to anxiety when going to the dentist, be sure to check out our article, ‘How to use essential oils to reduce dental appointment pain and anxiety’.
And last, be sure to NOT take vitamin C the morning of the procedure. Vitamin C can disrupt the anesthesia. That said, if you know your body can handle vitamin C, take plenty of it after the procedure to support healing and detox. A really, really excellent dental team may even be able to give you a vitamin C intravenous drip after the procedure.
Once you’re in the dental office, there are three parties we want to make sure are protected here: you, others in the room, and the planet. Let’s explore each of these.
How to protect yourself during the appointment
Here are the essential parts to a safe mercury amalgam removal. You can use this as a checklist of what the dental team should supply for you as part of their safe protocols.
- The room must be really well vented with an air filtration system.
- Have your face, neck, head, and chest covered by a protective material.
- You should be offered a source of fresh oxygen (or air) to breathe.
- A dental dam should be used around the tooth that is being restored.
- A saliva suction device should be under the dam to suck up any vapor that leaks under the dam.
- A high volume vacuum should be used right near your mouth during the whole procedure.
- The dental team needs to use lots of cool water during the procedure. This helps keep the mercury amalgam cooler (which decreases the vapor) and helps to gather and rid your mouth of mercury particulate from the removal process.
- At the end of the procedure just after the dam is removed, it’s wise to vigorously swish with some activated charcoal in water for a minute or two to gather/absorb any vapor that may be lingering in your mouth.
These are just the basics. There are definitely more refinements to the safety protocols, but these will definitely get you headed in the right direction.
How others in the room should be protected
If the team around the dental chair isn’t wearing serious respirator masks (like a gas mask), this means trouble to us.
After all, if the dental team really understands the risks of mercury vapor from this procedure, everyone who is going to be near your mouth during the procedure would have a respirator mask on (no, the little white dental masks don’t count.)
So, if the dental office isn’t protecting the staff, it’s likely that they don’t take the risk seriously, which makes us question whether they would be willing to cut corners on the protocols that are necessary for your safety.
How to protect the planet
We’re sure you’ve heard the idea of avoiding seafood, particularly the bigger fish like tuna, because they contain higher mercury levels. How do you think the mercury gets into our oceans to work its way up the food chain into these bigger fish?
Many years ago when interviewing our professional friend Dr Paul Rubin, we learned the importance of the dental office using a device called an ‘amalgam separator’ to capture the mercury pieces they remove during the procedure and keep them from getting into the wastewater system.
Improper handling of mercury fillings at the dental office is HUGE contributor to why mercury is making its way into our food chain. Currently, dental offices are responsible for 3.7 tons of it each year–that’s 50% of the mercury waste that makes it into our wastewater (according to the EPA).
Dental offices really need to be using an amalgam separator to capture the mercury and send it to a toxic waste disposal facility.
After the procedure
Make sure you review the detox pathway tips above. Keep everything flowing well.
In future articles, we plan to dive into more strategies for helping to remove mercury and other heavy metals from the body. Please be sure to tell us in the comments if you’d like us to write on this subject.
How to find a dentist trained in safe protocols
Ok, so now that you have the essentials, wouldn’t it be great to have a resource for finding dentists that are fully trained and certified in using these protocols?
Here you go…
The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) is a wonderful organization that continues to champion the path to increasing awareness of the dangers of mercury amalgams. They certify dentists with their protocols. Here is a link to their ‘find a dentist’ function.
Like so many journeys, as we explore down a rabbit hole, often times we learn something that leads us to new questions from our new place of understanding. Here are some questions we’ll explore in future articles.
- Is it better to have multiple amalgam fillings replaced at once or space them out?
- How to help your body remove the mercury after the procedure
- The relative risks and benefits of having amalgam fillings removed vs. keeping them in place
- How our genetic profile may determine our risk of mercury toxicity
- Relative risks of mercury amalgam fillings vs. composite fillings (many of which contain BPA)
Please let us know if you’d like us to research and write on these. Also, if you have other questions, please post them in the comments and we’ll add them to our ‘To Research and Write On’ list :).
Helpful, Related Resources
How to safely remove mercury from your brain and body [expert interview]
The relationship between gum disease, mercury and alzheimer’s disease [expert interview]
Changes in health complaints after removal of amalgam fillings [clinical study]
OraWellness Guide to Safe Dentistry [Free resource guidebook]
How to use essential oils to reduce dental appointment pain and anxiety [article]
Find a mercury safe dentist in your area [IAOMT searchable database]