St. Paul Family Dentist Explains the Problems with Using Mercury Fillings

Written by Drs. Mark and Rachel Malterud on Jun 10, 2014

There are a number of problems associated with using amalgam fillings containing mercury. While the dangers of mercury used in these fillings has not been fully confirmed, the St. Paul Family Dentist chooses to place only mercury-free fillings.

This is part of a trend in holistic dental treatments, and many dentists have chosen to discontinue the use of amalgam fillings altogether. For example, our office has not placed any mercury fillings in over 30 years.

Fillings containing mercury have been widely used by dental professionals for decades. At the time, there were few other choices available, and amalgam fillings were primarily used because of their strength and durability.

But over the years, many studies have emerged suggesting that the presence of mercury in our bodies is a potential health concern. As a result, we see an increasing number of patients who want their old mercury fillings replaced with attractive, safe composite fillings.

A dental filling made of mercury has the potential to leak, increasing the risk of developing decay that leads to deterioration of the tooth. Another problem with amalgam fillings is that they expand and contract, leading to possible cracking or breaking of the tooth.

This can be painful and result in several visits to the dentist to restore the tooth. You may need a dental crown and possibly a root canal to save the tooth. In extreme cases, you may need to have the tooth extracted.
But improvements in dental materials make it possible for us to now use aesthetically-pleasing tooth-colored composite fillings. If you currently have amalgam fillings and would like them replaced, we have protocols in place for their safe removal:

  • 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.
  • State-of-the art equipment is used in the treatment room to capture airborne mercury vapor and contaminants. A nasal hood is provided to eliminate the possibility of inhalation of harmful mercury vapors. Once the fillings have been removed safely, all supplies used 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 the St. Paul Family Dentist for a consultation to discuss your specific situation.