As an experienced dental professional who began having serious misgivings and doubt about the safety and effectiveness of dental treatments such as fluoride and mercury fillings, learning about the toxic and harmful effects of both fluoride and (silver) mercury amalgam fillings caused me to seek out professional dentists and specialists who have written books and published numerous articles regarding these practices for their expert advice for my readers.
Why? Despite the fact that I’ve been in dentistry for many years, it was only about a year ago that I began to question and doubt various dental procedures and began to do my own independent research on certain dental procedures and treatments. Being “just” a professional, licensed Registered Dental Assistant and Office Manager for many years, versus a professional dentist or dental specialist, it was and is important to me to provide my readers with information provided by dental experts who have gone to great lengths to inform the public and professional colleagues about the dangers and harmful effects of fluoride, mercury fillings, etc.
While I have spent many months reading numerous books and articles on these topics and others related to the field of dentistry, and have been doing my best to provide information and resource links and encouragement for readers to also research for themselves and read books about the dangers of fluoride and mercury fillings etc, inviting knowledgeable dentists to submit guest articles on these topics and others will hopefully provide readers a greater incentive to take the subjects seriously for the benefit of their own health and wellbeing, but also that of their children and families.
Dr. Tom McGuire has kindly provided the information below on how to safely remove mercury amalgam fillings and have your fillings replaced with safe alternatives.
Ignorance Is NOT Bliss!
How to Safely Remove Mercury “Amalgam” Fillings – Mercury Free and Safe Dentistry, by Dr. Tom McGuire
I felt it appropriate to start this section on safe amalgam filling removal by providing you access to my YouTube Video, Mercury: The Poison in Your Teeth. This amazing video clearly demonstrates that not only is mercury vapor released from amalgams but also quantitatively demonstrates the actual amount of mercury released from an amalgam by a common means of stimulation, tooth brushing.
As you’ll see in the Video, brushing a medium sized amalgam filling will release more mercury vapor than allowed by governmental regulatory agencies at the workplace! The Video also compares the amount of mercury vapor released to other forms of stimulation, by the patient and at the dental office – and what you can do about it!
There are many scientific studies that prove this, but it’s one thing to read about it and yet another to actually see how much mercury vapor being released from an amalgam filling by an EPA approved mercury vapor analyzer. The short video also offers evidence of the toxicity of mercury and is well worth the few minutes of your time it takes to view my YouTube Video: Mercury: The Poison in Your Teeth. Don’t forget to tell your friends and family about this video – or a dentist you’d like to help educate about this subject. You can also access the video by searching YouTube for either Tom McGuire, DDS or The Poison in Your Teeth.
While mercury vapor is released from amalgam fillings during many forms of common stimulation, such as brushing, chewing and grinding, significantly greater amounts are released when an amalgam filling is removed unsafely. The following two sections introduces the many reasons why it is important to have amalgam fillings removed in a safe way. I believe it will provide the background information you will need to know why mercury free and mercury safe dentists offer these safe removal protocols to minimize exposure to toxic mercury vapor. If you wish to link directly to the specific guidelines I recommend for safely removing amalgam fillings, Click Here.
Safe Amalgam Filling Removal
The majority of people I consult with are unaware mercury amalgam (silver) dental fillings release one of the most poisonous substances we will ever be exposed to. This lack of awareness can be devastating to their health because the mercury released from them can cause, contribute, or worsen every disease and health problem we will face. Because there is a vast difference in how amalgam silver fillings are removed in a mercury free dental office compared to a pro-amalgam office, I feel it important to describe the protocol for safely removing amalgam fillings.
While there is no universal consensus regarding the safest way to remove mercury amalgam fillings but one outstanding organization has established what I believe to be the safest protocol for minimizing a patient’s exposure to mercury. Established by New Directions Dentistry (NDD), it is the most thorough protocol yet developed and its protocol is used as a guideline by many mercury free and mercury safe dentists as the basis of their own safe removal program. For more information about NDD Click Here.
Symptoms and Diseases Related to Chronic Mercury Poisoning
There are many reasons why you would want to minimize your exposure to the mercury vapor that is released when amalgam fillings are removed. There is no doubt that mercury is an extraordinarily poisonous substance and no doubt that it is released from amalgam fillings by normal actions such as tooth brushing and chewing gum. But it is also important to understand just how many symptoms and diseases are related, directly or indirectly, to chronic mercury poisoning. For more information on that subject Click Here.
Health Improvements from Amalgam Filling Removal and Mercury Detoxification
For many tens of millions of people who are suffering from the adverse side-effects of chronic mercury poisoning it may not be enough just to minimize exposure to mercury vapor during amalgam filling removal. Most of those who are now suffering from mercury related health issues should also consider initiating a mercury detoxification program. Mercury Detoxification: The Natural Way to Remove Mercury from Your Body will be an invaluable guide to you if this is a path you chose to take.
A majority of people will see improvements in symptoms and diseases (over time) related to chronic mercury poisoning just by having these toxic fillings removed, but for others it will take a mercury detoxification program to get the results they seek. To review a number of studies that clearly show the health improvements in a large number of mercury related symptoms after amalgam fillings have been removed and a detoxification program is undertaken: Chronic Mercury Poisoning: Symptoms and Diseases.
Mothers and Chronic Mercury Poisoning
If you are a mother, or mother to be, it is extremely important for you to fully understand the effects of mercury on the fetus, nursing baby, and child you’ll want to know how mercury from amalgam fillings can cause or contribute to learning, mental, and developmental disorders: Mercury from Amalgam Fillings and Autism. For additional information and to learn how you can sign a petition to have these poisonous fillings banned. Ban Mercury Amalgam, Silver, Fillings.
Amalgam Fillings: Hazardous to Your Health
I’m aware that some dentists don’t believe the mercury released from amalgam fillings jeopardizes the health of the patient and dental office staff. It’s also true that many dentists who do believe that amalgam fillings are a health hazard aren’t necessarily aware of the safest removal protocol or benefits to the patient and dental office staff of doing so.
It’s also possible that a pro-amalgam dentist may abide by your decision to remove your amalgam fillings but lacks the necessary equipment and experience to remove them in the safest way possible. Or he, or she, may not fully understand the importance of following the correct removal procedure . . . or who just doesn’t care. If your dentist falls into any of these categories, you should take the time to find a mercury free and mercury safe dentist who is well versed in this protocol. If you must work with a dentist who isn’t, I suggest you provide him with a copy of the guidelines I will recommend in the next section and ask him to follow them. If he won’t, or argues with you, I suggest finding one who will. After all, you are the patient and you hire him; it is your body, not his; and it is YOUR choice.
Even if your dentist informs you that she is mercury safe and follows a safe removal protocol, it wouldn’t hurt to have her explain what it is. You could ask her if her safe removal protocol is the same or similar to the one I suggest. Although her procedures don’t have to be exactly the same, if she deviates significantly from this protocol, make sure she gives you a satisfactory explanation as to why.
Should I Have My Amalgam Fillings Removed Safely
The guidelines I recommend for safe amalgam filling removal are based on the removal protocols established by the New Directions Dentistry (NDD). Click Here for information about NDD. The value of its protocol is that it can reduce your exposure to mercury vapor and amalgam particles during filling removal by nearly 100%. While this preventive approach to minimizing your exposure to toxic mercury vapor is important for everyone, it’s an absolute must for those who:
• are pregnant or nursing and still choose to have mercury amalgam fillings removed;
• are allergic to mercury or any of the other materials used in an amalgam filling, particularly tin or silver;
• anyone who has ever had any adverse side effects after having mercury amalgam fillings placed or removed; and
• anyone who has immune system disorders, allergies, or other serious health problems.
Some dentists don’t follow every one of the guidelines listed in the next section, while others go even further to protect the patient and the office staff. I believe the basic New Directions Dentistry protocol is more than adequate and should be acceptable to most, if not all, dentists who subscribe to the basic concepts of mercury free and mercury safe, holistic, or biological dentistry.
Safe Removal Guidelines for Amalgam Fillings
1. Keep the fillings cool during removal
Drilling out an amalgam filling generates a tremendous amount of heat, which causes a significant increase in the release of mercury, both as a vapor and in amalgam particles, during the entire removal process. Cooling the filling with water and air while drilling substantially reduces the amount of mercury vapor the filling releases.
2. Cutting the Amalgam into Chunks
Most mercury-safe dentists use a removal process that’s commonly referred to as chunking. This involves less drilling, because the dentist only drills enough to cut the filling into chunks, which can then be easily removed by a hand instrument or suction. Both chunking and keeping the filling cool during removal are very important and I believe all mercury safe dentists should follow this procedure.
3. Use a high-volume evacuator
Most mercury safe dentists use a more powerful suction system than the type used by most pro-amalgam dentists. I feel this is one of the most important tools in minimizing the patient’s exposure to mercury vapor and amalgam particles. The evacuator tip should be kept to within 1⁄2 inch of the filling during the entire time the filling is being removed. This helps capture more of the mercury vapor and particles. All mercury safe dentists should follow this procedure.
4. Provide the patient with an alternative source of air
Not every mercury safe dentist agrees with the need for this as long as a high-volume evacuator is being used. But if it isn’t being used, I believe the patient should be provided with an alternative air source while their amalgam fillings are being removed, even if steps 1 & 2 are done. If your mercury safe dentist doesn’t provide an alternative source of air you should ask him or her if they are using a high-volume evacuation system.
An alternative source of air isn’t necessary after the removal process when the tooth is being prepared for the new filling and while the new filling is placed. But during the actual removal, the patient should be provided with a nasal hood through which he or she can breathe either compressed air from a tank, air from a source outside the office, or oxygen from a tank. The patient should be instructed to breathe through the nose and avoid breathing through the mouth while mercury amalgam silver fillings are being removed.
The consensus is not to remove mercury amalgam fillings during a pregnancy or during nursing. But if for whatever reason that procedure is done, I personally believe that an alternative source of air should be provided when removing amalgam fillings from the teeth of pregnant and nursing mothers, patients who have multiple allergies and sensitivities, immune system problems, or any other health issues related to chronic mercury poisoning. This I would recommend even if a high volume evacuator is being used as these people will want to maximize their protection.
5. Use a rubber dam
A rubber dam isolates the tooth or teeth being worked on. It was believed that the rubber dam would protect the patient from breathing mercury vapor in through the mouth. We now know that mercury vapor can readily pass through a rubber dam made out of latex, the most commonly used rubber dam material. Many patients have heard that the rubber dam offers a great deal of protection and should absolutely be included as part of the safe removal protocol. Some people will even insist on its use to protect them from mercury vapor.
My personal opinion is that, because the rubber dam does not protect you from inhaling mercury vapor during the removal process, it does not absolutely have to be used when removing amalgam fillings. Incorporating the first 4 steps listed above will provide the greatest source of protection from mercury vapor for the patient. But while the rubber dam offers little protection against mercury vapor I believe that it does make it easier to evacuate the filling material and prevent amalgam particles from being swallowed. (Even though swallowed amalgam particles contain mercury it is not believed to be released during its process through the intestine, it is sound procedure to prevent as much of it as possible from being swallowed. So the particles are not a threat to your health.)
If a composite filling is used to replace a mercury amalgam filling, the rubber dam offers an isolated and dry field for placing the composite filling. The dentist will decide when it is or isn’t necessary. It does take some time to place and remove the rubber dam, it can be a little uncomfortable, and some patients simply cannot tolerate its use. There are other exceptions to its use because the position or location of some teeth, particularly 3rd molars, or so-called wisdom teeth, may make it impossible to place a rubber dam.
A Note to the Patient
Whether your dentist uses a rubber dam or not you should always focus on breathing through your nose during the entire time the amalgam fillings are being removed. This is especially important if an alternative source of air is not available.
6. Remove gloves and clean the patient’s mouth
Once the filling(s) have been removed and replaced, the dentist and the assistant should remove and dispose of their gloves and the rubber dam, and thoroughly rinse and vacuum the patient’s entire mouth for at least 15 seconds. This will help remove amalgam particles and residual mercury vapor from the mouth. The patient should make every effort not to swallow during the rinsing procedure. I also suggest that after the rinsing procedure, the patient use a small amount of water and gargle as far back into his throat as possible. The patient should not swallow this watery residue! Instead, he or she should spit it into a sink or cup. All mercury free dentists should follow this procedure but it won’t hurt to remind him or her.
7. Immediately clean up
After the fillings have been removed and replaced, the dentist or dental assistant should immediately remove and dispose of the patient’s protective covering and thoroughly clean his face and neck. All mercury safe dentists should routinely do this but remind the assistant if she forgets, after all you don’t want to take any mercury home with you.
8. Use additional air purification
Some mercury safe dentists use an additional air filtering system that’s placed as close to the patient’s mouth as is practical. The more popular ones resemble an elephant’s trunk and have openings about 4 inches in diameter. This can be helpful, but I agree with those mercury safe dentists who believe that the patient can be adequately protected without such a system. More and more mercury safe dentists are using this type of purification system and while it’s a nice addition to the removal protocol, it is more important for the dentist and assistant than the patient.
9. Filtering air in the operatory
There are a number of effective ways to purify the air in the dental office. I’m not making specific recommendations. But many mercury safe dental offices filter the office air, as they work in it all day and it’s to their benefit to do so. This is more important for the dentist and staff than for the patient. Although mercury safe offices don’t place amalgam fillings, they certainly are required to remove them. Keep in mind that you will only be at the office for a short period of time but the dentist and his or her staff will be removing these fillings many times throughout the day. I believe all mercury safe dentists would want to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their entire staff from excessive exposure to mercury.
10. Use activated charcoal
There’s some evidence that activated charcoal taken 10-15 minutes before amalgam removal can bind smaller particles of swallowed mercury, allowing them to be harmlessly passed out of the intestine via the feces. I consider this to be optional, as very little elemental or inorganic mercury is absorbed through the intestine, but it can’t hurt to add it, especially if you are in the high risk category.
Comments from Dr. Tom
As you can see, the amalgam removal procedure done in a mercury safe office is vastly different from what you have experienced at a pro-amalgam dental office. The above are only presented as guidelines for the safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings and there are similar protocols that are equally effective.
It should be noted that all of the above procedures are not weighted equally in regard to how much protection from mercury vapor and particles they will provide. Some are more important than others but I believe it is absolutely necessary for Steps 1, 2 and 3 to be taken. For example, it is much more important to the patient to breathe an alternative source of air than to take activated charcoal so you wouldn’t want to trade taking charcoal for an alternative source of air.
It is also more beneficial to the patient if the dentist keeps the fillings cool, uses a high speed evacuator and a rubber dam, than filtering the dental office air. Again, not all the above procedures are absolutely necessary to safely remove amalgam fillings but the more of them your mercury dentist uses the better. Always ask the dentist if you are unsure about any procedure he or she is using.
If you plan on having your mercury amalgam (silver) fillings removed and are looking for a mercury safe dentist, I recommend searching the world’s largest and comprehensive database of Mercury Free & Mercury Safe Dentists. If you are a mercury safe dentist you can become a member of my Mercury Safe Dentist Internet Listing Service. The Mercury Free and Safe Dentist Listing offers many benefits of membership.