St. Paul Family Dentist Explains Process for Removing Old Mercury Fillings

Written by Drs. Mark and Rachel Malterud on Mar 10, 2015

Fillings using mercury were very popular because, at the time, they were the most durable type of filling available. They were used primarily on first and second molars that undergo a tremendous amount of force as we chew. But advances in the materials used in dentistry have made it possible to use natural-colored composite fillings that are just as strong and durable and do not contain mercury.

One of the dangers of dental fillings made of mercury is their potential to leak. Not only does this pose a risk to your health, it also leads to the deterioration of healthy tooth structure. Amalgam fillings containing mercury also expand and contract, which can lead to cracking or breaking of the tooth. This can be painful and usually results in having to make multiple visits to the dentist to restore the tooth. In these situations, a root canal and placement of a dental crown is usually required.

Many patients are choosing to have their old mercury fillings replaced with composite fillings that are safe and also more effective for preserving healthy tooth structure. When you arrive at the St. Paul Family Dentist to have your amalgam fillings removed, we will take the following steps:

  • A rubber dam will be placed in your mouth to prevent debris from being swallowed.
  • Cold water will be used during removal to keep the mercury cool and prevent possible release of harmful vapors.
  • The amalgam filling will be carefully removed in chunks to avoid drilling and the possible release of mercury vapors.
  • High-volume vacuum equipment will be used to remove airborne particles of mercury and its vapor.

The air in the treatment room is also filtered to trap airborne mercury vapor and other contaminants. You will be given a nasal hood to eliminate the possibility of inhaling harmful mercury vapors and airborne particles. Upon removal of the fillings, all hazardous materials and supplies are carefully disposed of.

You do not have to live with unattractive and potentially harmful mercury fillings. If you are concerned about the safety of your fillings, contact our office for a consultation to discuss your specific situation.