Mercury-Free and Mercury-Safe: What’s in a Name?
Feb 04, 2013 11:11PM
By Paul Rodeghero, DDS
Today, many dentists are mercury-free (amalgam-free), but are they mercury-safe? Strictly speaking, the term "mercury-free" refers to dentists who do not put amalgam fillings in their patients’ teeth. This term was first used over 40 years ago by dentists who wanted to distinguish themselves from colleagues who felt that 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 removal process released excessive and unnecessary amounts of toxic mercury vapor.
Over time, dentists who were mercury-free developed protocols and equipment that allowed them to dramatically minimize the patient’s exposure to mercury during the removal process. In effect, using these protocols meant that their practices were also "mercury-safe".
Fast forward to today. In a survey taken recently, 52 percent of general dentists called themselves mercury-free, meaning they no longer use mercury-laden amalgams as fillings. However, it is no guarantee they are capable of safely removing mercury-laden toxic amalgams. Patients looking for a dentist to safely remove their amalgam fillings must ask the question: "Are you both mercury-free AND mercury-safe?" Do not assume that a dentist who advertises his or her practice as mercury-free is also mercury-safe.
Unsafe removal of amalgam fillings can generate huge amounts of toxic mercury vapor, easily up to 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 huge amounts of poisonous mercury vapor.
The mercury released from amalgam fillings negatively affects patients’ health.
Patients, the dentist and his assistants 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!
Dr. Paul Rodeghero, Clearwater Family Dental, is a "Mercury-Safe" dentist trained by the IAOMT. See ad page 11.