The Importance of Mercury Removal in Lake Oswego, OR

Safe Mercury Removal

Watch this video to learn more about Toxic Fillings

The Importance of Safe Mercury Removal

Silver or amalgam fillings have been part of dentistry for hundreds of years. However, in recent years they’ve fallen out of favor for many reasons, including associated health concerns. Silver fillings often contain mercury, a toxic metallic element that can be released in the form of vapor when you bite down or try to have your silver fillings removed. 

Constant exposure to even low levels of mercury can cause numerous side effects ranging in severity from tiredness to difficulty breathing, and even death. At Aesthetic Dentistry of Lake Oswego, Dr. Bowden practices safe mercury removal to protect the health of his patients.

What Is Safe Mercury Removal?

Safe mercury removal involves your dentist removing your silver fillings while exposing you to as little mercury as possible. There are 11 procedures that most mercury-safe dentists use to minimize mercury exposure to the patient, the dental staff, and the environment during amalgam filling removal. They are divided into four categories:

  • Minimizing the amount of mercury that could be released from the filling
  • Intercepting the mercury that escapes the filling before the patient breathes it in
  • Filtering the office air
  • Cleaning the patient and disposing of contaminated material, such as patient coverings, gloves, and the rubber dam

Learn more about Holistic Dentist Dr. Bowden’s safe mercury removal methods by reading the guide below.

1. Cooling the Fillings

The amount of mercury vapor released from an amalgam filling is directly proportional to its temperature. Drilling out an amalgam filling generates a tremendous amount of heat, which in turn releases significantly more vapor. Cooling the filling by using as much water as possible during the process will significantly reduce the amount of mercury vapor released.

2. Chunking Amalgams

Mercury-safe holistic dentists like Dr. Bowden can achieve safe mercury removal through a process called “chunking.” Chunking involves your dentist using a special drill bit to section the filling into large chunks. These chunks can then be easily removed by a hand instrument or suction. This procedure reduces drilling time as well as the amount of mercury vapor released.

3. Using High-Volume Evacuation

Mercury-safe dentists can also use a powerful suction vacuum system for safe mercury removal in a process called high-volume evacuation. High-volume evacuation minimizes your exposure to mercury vapor because, in effect, the suction intercepts the vapor before you can breathe it in. The tip of the suction/vacuum hose will be placed as close to the filling as possible during the entire removal process. This procedure captures most of the mercury vapor and particles released as the filling is removed.

4. Providing an Alternative Source of Air

All mercury-safe dentists adhere to the first three protocols. However, Dr. Bowden goes above and beyond in his safe mercury removal procedures by providing you with an alternative source of air to breathe. Some feel that as long as the first three procedures are strictly followed, this isn’t necessary. Dr. Bowden will insist on an alternative source of air for added safety, especially if you’re in a high-risk category such as pregnancy or nursing.

An alternative source of air is provided through a nasal hood, which covers your nose. Through this hood, you breathe either compressed air or oxygen from a tank. After the fillings have been removed, an alternative source of air should no longer be necessary. We’ll help you concentrate on breathing through your nostrils and avoid breathing through your mouth while your mercury fillings are being removed whether you are provided with an alternative source of air or not.

5. Using a Rubber Dam/The Isolite System

The rubber dam was designed to isolate the tooth or teeth being worked on, making it easier for the dentist to see and protect the tooth or teeth from bacteria, moisture, and the tongue. The rubber dam is made from either latex rubber or silicone for those allergic to latex. It is very thin and flexible, comes in various colors, and can range in size from 5 x 5 inches to 6 x 6-inch squares. 

It’s now known that mercury vapor can readily pass through a rubber dam made from latex, the most common rubber dam material. Silicone is more resistant to mercury vapor. However, although the rubber dam offers little protection against mercury vapor, it does make it easier to evacuate the filling material and prevent amalgam particles from being swallowed. Amalgam particles can’t be absorbed into the body, but it’s always wise to avoid swallowing any dental material. 

At our Lake Oswego, OR office, Dr. Bowden also uses a dental device called the Isolite System for safe mercury removal. The Isolite System is a combination vacuum/dam/light that illuminates and isolates the tooth and provides a constant source of suction close to the amalgam. It’s often used in place of the rubber dam and is more effective at protecting you from mercury vapor and amalgam particles. 

As Dr. Bowden is personalizing your treatment plan, he’ll determine which option is the best based on your situation. If you have any questions about the rubber dam or the alternative, Dr. Bowden will explain them to you in depth.

6. Cleaning Up Immediately and Properly

Once the safe mercury removal process is completed, your Lake Oswego dentist and assistant will remove and properly dispose of their gloves and the rubber dam (if used) and thoroughly rinse and vacuum your entire mouth for at least 10 seconds. This process helps remove amalgam particles and residual mercury captured by the saliva. We encourage you to make every effort not to swallow during the short rinsing procedure to further aid safe mercury removal. 

When this is finished, we’ll give you a small amount of water for you to gargle as far back into your throat as possible. Once you’ve gargled, don’t swallow this watery residue! It will be evacuated by our dental assistant, or spit into a cup. In addition, when the removal procedure is finished, your dentist or dental assistant will remove and properly dispose of your protective covering and clean your face and neck. Proper cleaning helps ensure you don’t take any mercury home with you.

7. Using Additional Air Purification

Your mercury-safe dentist may also use an additional air filtering system that’s placed as close to your mouth as is practical. The more popular ones resemble an elephant’s trunk and have an opening about 4 inches in diameter. This filter is helpful in further removing mercury vapor and further protecting you as well as your dentist and their assistants during safe mercury removal. This extra precaution is helpful, hence why it’s used in conjunction with a primary filtering system. 

8. Filtering Air in the Dental Operatory

At Aesthetic Dentistry in Lake Oswego, we filter the office air because we work in it all day and it’s to everyone’s benefit to do so. The air filtration at our Lake Oswego office helps us take the necessary precautions to protect our entire staff from repeated and excessive exposure to mercury.

9. Using Activated Charcoal

There is emerging evidence that suggests that activated charcoal taken soon after mercury exposure or 10-15 minutes before amalgam removal can capture swallowed elemental mercury and mercury vapor, allowing it to be harmlessly passed out of the intestine via the feces. Dr. Bowden usually considers this to be an optional step, as only 0.01 percent of swallowed elemental mercury is absorbed through the intestine. However, it can’t hurt to add it as an extra precaution for your procedure. Your Lake Oswego dentist is likely to recommend it if you are in the high mercury risk category.

l0. Vitamin C Infusions

Select dentists and health professionals consider vitamin C (ascorbic acid) infusions to be an effective method of protecting the body from mercury vapor during safe mercury removal. Based on his evaluations of the available data, Dr. Bowden supports the vitamin C protocol and believes that it can protect the body from mercury vapor when it is in the bloodstream. If you’re a high-risk patient, such as those who are allergic to mercury or have numerous symptoms and diseases related to a chronic mercury compromised immune system, Dr. Bowden will likely recommend the vitamin C protocol. 

Because vitamin C may diminish the effect of the anesthetic in some people and it’s administered intravenously, a vitamin C infusion will be coordinated with your dentist and a qualified health practitioner. Dr. Bowden will likely give you your infusion after the anesthetic has been given and the part of your mouth being worked on is numbed.

11. Supplements

Dr. Bowden recommends that everyone start a mercury detoxification supplement program before their fillings are removed. Bringing your mercury levels down beforehand will not only help improve your overall health, but also it will prevent your mercury levels from spiking to dangerous levels while your silver fillings are being removed and you’re being exposed to more mercury at once than usual. 

Common supplements used for mercury detoxification include vitamin C, activated charcoal, and garlic. However, unsupervised supplement use can be detrimental to your overall health. For example, charcoal doesn’t just aid in safe mercury removal, it can also cancel out the effects of medications such as antidepressants, diabetes medication, and the steroids used in asthma inhalers. Your Lake Oswego dentist does not encourage you to start any supplement regimen before you consult with him and your primary health care provider. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is safe mercury removal covered by insurance?
How long does safe mercury removal take?
Is safe mercury removal painful?
Is safe mercury removal covered by insurance?

Removing mercury is likely to be at least partially covered by your insurance. Dr. Bowden and the rest of our team at Aesthetic Dentistry of Lake Oswego encourage you to contact your provider beforehand to confirm which costs they’ll cover. If you’re uninsured or underinsured, don’t worry. We offer flexible financing options, including third-party financing through CareCredit. 

How long does safe mercury removal take?

Safe mercury removal is a meticulous process, performed with the safety of you, your dentist, and any other dental professionals present in mind. We strive to minimize removal time to reduce mercury exposure, but the exact time it will take to safely remove your silver fillings will vary. 

Is safe mercury removal painful?

No! The mercury removal is virtually painless. We’ll apply a local anesthetic before safe mercury removal and ensure it’s working before we proceed. Rest assured that Dr. Bowden and all of our dental team prioritize your safety as well as your comfort.  

Choose Safe Mercury Removal For A Healthier Smile!

With safe mercury removal, Dr. Bowden can help ensure your smile is healthy and significantly lower your risk of mercury poisoning. If you’re interested in enjoying a healthier smile with safe mercury removal, contact Aesthetic Dentistry of Lake Oswego by dialing (503) 675-7300. You can also request an appointment by clicking the button below. 

Dr. Bowden proudly offers mercury-safe holistic dentistry and years of experience to our new and returning Lake Oswego patients, as well as patients from surrounding areas such as Portland, Tualatin, Wilsonville, Beaverton, Tigard, Sherwood, OR.