Metal fillings are often called “amalgam” or silver fillings, and have been used by dentists for over a century. As metal fillings age, they also begin to leak into the tooth enamel around the filling, causing a bluish-grey stain in the tooth. This can make metal fillings more unsightly over time, as they can become darker and appear as black areas on the teeth when someone talks or laughs. Amalgam fillings also contain mercury, a metal that some people associate with negative health effects due to it being present in the body through dental fillings.
Removing metal fillings can both remove the unwanted mercury from your mouth, but also allow you to replace the filling with a more cosmetically pleasing, tooth colored filling. When removing mercury fillings, it takes highly trained skills and isolation techniques in order to prevent the mercury from escaping and leaking into the rest of the body. There are very special protocols for isolating the mercury filling and extracting it without exposing the patient. Normal filling removal does not involve careful additional steps, so if mercury exposure is something you are concerned with you will want to consider mercury isolation during removal.
Only specially trained dentists offer this service, so remember to ask your dental office if it is something they offer to patients or not. When the mercury is removed from the tooth it is also suctioned into an advanced trap system, preventing the mercury filling from entering into the environment. The mercury filling is then collected after the procedure and disposed of using EPA standards.
Once your metal filling has been removed, you can choose a tooth colored restoration to put in its place, such as a composite filling or porcelain crown, based on your needs.
Posted on the behalf of Cosmetic Dentistry Center
Amalgam fillings, more commonly known as metal fillings, have long been the subject of debate. These older types of fillings are made from a blend of copper, silver and mercury and for decades, were the standard type of tooth filling used in dentistry. Since the 1970s however, research into the effects of metal toxicity on the human body has brought the safety of metal fillings into question. Several studies have linked metal fillings to gastrointestinal problems, neurological problems, sleep disturbances, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney damage, oral pathologies, and immune system disorders. In light of the controversy surrounding amalgam fillings, many dental practices now offer filling replacement services.
Dentists who remove mercury fillings carefully follow a set of protocols to ensure that the fillings are removed safely. During removal of mercury fillings, as the dentist drills out the filling, the patient is exposed to harmful mercury, copper, and silver vapors; thus, precautions are taken to minimize the effects of heavy metal ingestion on the patient. Usually, the patient will be given a high oral dose of vitamin C, an antioxidant that works to removes or detoxify the body of heavy metals. The patient will also be given an oxygen mask with a built-in filter; this way, the patient is breathing in clean air, rather than airborne heavy metal particles.
During filling removal, the dental assistant will also use a suction hose, air-water syringe, and another tool called a high volume evacuator to constantly vacuum away debris and keep the mouth clean and dry. This is done to keep the patient from swallowing pieces of metal and to reduce the possibility of infection. Once the metal filling is out and the patient has rinsed with water to clean the mouth of any remaining metal fragments, the next step is re-plugging the tooth with a composite filling. These non-metal fillings are non-toxic and match the color of the teeth so that they appear natural. After the procedure, the patient is typically given activated charcoal pills to take which further detox the body of heavy metals.
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