Mercury is usually added to dental amalgam filling to make it more pliable, but it comes with the risk of potential mercury poisoning down the line whenever this cavity filler requires removal or replacement. If you simply want to remove the filling to apply a better shaped filling thanks to an ever-widening case of dental caries, removal can be quite tricky thanks to the mercury content of the filling in question.
Safe Removal Guidelines for Removing Mercury Amalgam Fillings
- Keep the Fillings Cool during Removal: A tremendous amount of heat is applied to the amalgam filling when it’s drilled, which can cause a significant increase in mercury release. It can spread from your mouth to the rest of your body in the form of either amalgam particles or as a vapor. As such, special precautions are taken when removing the filling, like adding cold air and water when drilling. This substantially reduces the mercury vapor content released by the amalgam filler.
- Cutting the Amalgam into Chunks: Chunking a popular removal process when it comes to amalgam/filling removal as far as mercury-safe dentists are concerned. It involves fewer instances of drilling of the filling in order to drill it into (pardon the pun) “bite-sized” chucks that are easier to remove in parts versus extended drill usage that carries the risk of mercury vapor release and mercury poisoning due to temperature changes. Chunking is usually used in tandem with keeping the filling cool during removal to ensure mercury-safe removal of the filling.
- Use a High-Volume Evacuator: Another safety measure dentists use to keep even an iota of mercury to enter your system is the use of a powerful suction system. The faster your risky filling is sucked out, the less your risk of mercury poisoning. This is one of the most important tools when it comes to ensuring that your exposure to mercury vapor and amalgam particles is significantly minimized. The tip should be kept within half an inch of the filling during the entire time it’s drilled and cut into pieces.
- Put on a Rubber Dam: A rubber dam you put on your mouth like some sort of mouth guard that opens your mouth up and keeps it open isolates the tooth or set of teeth that’s being worked on. The dam should serve as an extra layer of protection when it comes to limiting amalgam debris exposure. However, the vapor can pass through the latex material. On the other hand, it does serve the purpose of keeping (or forcing) your mouth open throughout the operation.
- Provide the Patient with an Alternative Source of Air: To keep you safe from not only the mercury vapor, but also from suffocation, your mercury-safe dentist should also provide you with an alternative source of air while the fillings are being removed. You should have some sort of special tube with oxygen on hand placed over your nose while you’re instructed to breathe from your nose instead of your mouth.
With that said, an alternative air source isn’t necessarily needed when your tooth is being prepped for the new filling after the old filling has been removed. However, during the actual removal process, you should be given a nasal hood through which you can breathe either oxygen from a tank, air from an outside source, or compressed air from a compressor.
Thantakit International Dental Center is Thailand’s longest established dental center. Situated in Bangkok, our clinic is renowned across the world as a destination for world-class dentistry, with most of our patients flying to us from Australia.
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