Dental schools still teach dentists to use mercury amalgam (silver) fillings and the American Dental Association (ADA) continues to tell the public they are safe. But recently more and more questions have been raised about the safety of the mercury vapor released from amalgam fillings by various forms of stimulatio n. This has resulted in a controversy and an ongoing deb
ate about them – with some dentists saying they are safe and some saying they aren’t. This has now evolved to the point where over 50% of practicing dentists are no longer putting mercury amalgam fillings in their patients’ teeth. In fact, three countries, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have banned the use of these fillings in the dental practice.
The controversy has also made dentists rethink what they were taught in dental school. After extensive research (including reading Dr. McGuire’s book The Poison in Your Teeth: Mercury Amalgam (Silver) Fillings . . . Hazardous to Your Health), and information provided on the ADA’s website, many dentists have concluded that it would no longer be in the best interests of their patients to offer mercury amalgam as a filling material and became amalgam free.
In addition, because it has been proven that unsafe levels of toxic mercury vapor are released when amalgam fillings are unsfely removed, Mercury Safe dentists have made their offices as mercury safe as possible. To that purpose, these dentists use state-of-the art technology, equipment, and safe removal protocols, to protect their patients, their staff, themselves and the environment from excessive, and unnecessary, occupational exposure to mercury at the dental office. In doing so they’ve now made their practices both Mercury Free (amalgam silver filling free) and Occupationally Mercury Safe.
Becoming both a Mercury Free (amalgam/silver filling free) and Mercury Safe dental practice is a decision made by the individual dentist – but they all believe that deciding whether or not to have your existing mercury amalgam fillings removed and replaced must be your choice, and your choice alone. Because they place great importance on Patient Education, they feel it is their responsibility to educate their patients about the relationship of oral to overall issues and to provide them with the information required for them to make educated decisions. That is why many dentists provide Dr. McGuire’s books and why they also encourage patients to go to the ADA’s website (www.ada.org) to learn more about the pros and cons of removing, or keeping, mercury amalgam silver fillings. But again, every mercury safe dentist will make it clear that the decision to remove and replace mercuryt amalgam fillings can, and should only, be made by the patient.
Dentists who are both Mercury Free (amalgam/silver filling free) and Mercury Safe want their patients to know that there is a significant difference between the two. As a patient it is also very important to know the difference between the two – because more and more dentists are becoming Mercury Free but are still not Mercury Safe.
Strictly speaking, the term “Mercury Free” refers to dentists who do not put amalgam silver fillings in their patients’ teeth. This term was first used over 40 years ago by dentists who wanted to distinguish themselves from other dentists who believed that mercury amalgams were safe and continued to use them.
However, the term Mercury Free wasn’t a truly accurate description because even dentists who didn’t put in amalgam fillings still had to remove them – and the unsafe removal process released excessive and unnecessary amounts of toxic mercury vapor. But while being Mercury Free was a good beginning – it solved only part of the problem.
Over time, dentists who were Mercury Free developed protocols and equipment that allowed them to dramatically minimize a patient’s exposure to mercury during the amalgam removal process. In effect, using these protocols meant that their practices were not just Mercury (amalgam) Free – but also were now Mercury Safe – yet they erroneously continued to only use the term Mercury Free to describe themselves. But times have changed and the term “Mercury Free” is not only inadequate but confusing and misleading!
Today it is no longer enough for a dentist who is both Mercury (amalgam) Free and Mercury Safe to just promote his or her practice as only being Mercury Free. Why? Recently a survey showed that 52% of general dentists no longer use amalgam and call themselves Mercury Free. But, and this is important for every dental patient to know; not because they were concerned about safely removing them – but mainly because they no longer felt amalgam was a good filling material when compared to the newer composite fillings.
This of course has created a dilemma for patients who believed that dentists who said they were Mercury (amalgam filling ) Free meant they also used protocols to safely remove amalgam fillings. But patients are catching on and now look for dentists who will safely remove their amalgam fillings and now ask this question of the dentist: “Are you both Mercury Free and Mercury Safe?” Bottom line . . . you can’t assume that a dentist who advertises his or her practice as being Mercury – amalgam fiilling- Free, is also Mercury Safe – unless you ask!
Unsafe removal of amalgam/silver fillings can generate huge amounts of toxic mercury vapor, easily over 100 times more than the maximum levels of mercury vapor allowed by all government regulatory agencies. What really separates Mercury Safe Dentists from those who are ‘only’ Mercury Free, is their understanding that:
• When unsafely removed, amalgam fillings release excessive and unnecessary amounts of poisonous mercury vapor.
• The mercury released from amalgam fillings negatively affects themselves, the patient, the staff, and the environment.
• Patients absolutely need to be protected from exposure to toxic mercury vapor during the amalgam removal process.
Mercury Safe Dentists also have the specialized equipment, training, experience, and skills necessary to minimize their patients’ exposure to mercury during amalgam removal. If you want to protect yourself from excessive and unnecessary occupational exposure to mercury vapor at the dental office make sure your dentist is not just Mercury Free – but also Mercury Safe!