After bite alignment procedures, if needed, an appropriate material would be recommended to give the teeth repaired the best chance of never needing repair again.  This is important because each time a tooth is repaired, the nerve within it is traumatized and these traumas, like x-rays, are cumulative.  Following is a typical history of incidents that occur during the lifetime of a tooth.  First the tooth has a cavity (decay) which traumatizes the nerve (pulp) as bacteria enter it even with a moderate sized decay.  Then the decay is drilled out along with some healthy tooth structure to provide undercuts so that the filling won’t fall out, as mercury amalgam fillings have absolutely no adhesive qualities – they actually just sit in the tooth.   And then they expand and contract at a different rate than the tooth, which cracks from internal expansion that eventually causes tooth structure to break away as seen with this tooth.

Fortunately, the pulp issue inside the tooth has healing resources - a blood supply and a lymphatic system - that counteract the inflammatory process from the bacterial invasions (decays) and trauma of the removal process.  The plot thickens though, as the process continues with the tooth breaking from being weakened from a previous filling(s) and/or has another decay and needs repairing again – more trauma to the pulp. Small decays to be filled or mercury amalgam fillings to be replaced can be restored with direct bonded tooth-colored restorations in one appointment.  However, when a large amount of tooth structure is missing from decay or the presence of large mercury amalgam fillings, especially in back teeth where the pressure is greatest, this type of filling material has less of a longevity factor as its strength factor is limited compared to laboratory processed materials.  Also, if the bonding material replaces a large biting area of a back tooth where the opposing tooth contacts only the material and not much surrounding biting tooth surface, it can wear away from chewing forces causing a bite to change through the opposing tooth’s erupting into the void created by the wear. One feature of mercury amalgam fillings is that they wear similarly to that of tooth structure.  I’ve seen them replaced with bonding materials and although the mercury was now absent, the materials that replaced it presented other types of problems such as teeth sensitivity, bite shifting, etc. A tooth with large and/or multiple fillings will eventually need a protective restoration of some type, and this adds more trauma to the pulp.  Here is where the philosophy of the dental practice enters, which can vary considerably from dentist to dentist.  The type of protective restoration most frequently placed is a porcelain crown.  Yet, the most frequently root canalled teeth are those with porcelain crowns.  This is because, along with the accumulated traumas earlier described, a porcelain crown requires that 35 – 40% additional healthy tooth structure be removed circumferentially as well from top down to make room for the porcelain and  underlying metal or zirconium materials fabricated within it that give it strength.  This causes a lot of pulp/nerve trauma, as the surface of the tooth at its neck area just above the gum needs to be cut into deep enough around its base to provide strength of material.  This area - 360 degrees around the base of the tooth - is especially close to its nerve.

Information about “Silver Amalgam” Fillings,
Our Protocol for Removing Them, and

Basics Regarding Their Replacement 

The Dental Wellness Center became “mercury free” by discontinuing the use of mercury amalgam fillings well over 20 years ago.  The original rationale for ending their usage was that most all teeth filled with this substance would eventually fracture due to the expansion of the metal, sometimes “mortally” (down the middle) and need to be extracted, or require root canal treatment, gum surgery or both afterwards to restore the tooth properly.  Also, other materials were coming on the market that were approaching the longevity and positive attrition (wear) qualities of these fillings.  Another thing, which was not even addressed in dental school, was the fact that mercury vapor released during their placement could be unhealthy not only for the patient but also for the doctor and assistant.  It was also becoming quite evident from research that mercury vapor continues to be released after the amalgam filling material becomes hardened within teeth.  Realizing these facts, we have become “mercury safe,” which means that we not only don’t place mercury amalgam fillings, but implement safety features that protect our patients as well as ourselves.  The only mercury in our office today resides within the fillings of patients who may have them.  The following is some information about the metal element mercury, fillings that have mercury amalgamated within them, how we handle their removal and the rationale for their replacement.  

Some facts:

  • Mercury is the most poisonous, non-radioactive, naturally occurring substance on our planet.
  • Mercury amalgam fillings continually release poisonous mercury vapor.
  • Even the American Dental Association admits that 1 - 3 micrograms (mcg) of mercury vapor/day is released from these fillings. 
  • One mcg of mercury vapor equals 4,000,000,000,000 (4 trillion) mercury atoms.
  • They have been commonly referred to as "silver amalgam" fillings when in fact they are composed of only 35%  silver, 50% mercury and the rest other metals.  
  • The amount of mercury released from these fillings can vary depending upon their number, size, amount, and duration of stimulation. (Temperature, chewing, teeth grinding, etc.)
  • Mercury vaporizes in incremental proportions from temperatures above 68 degrees F.  Our body temperatures are around 98.6 degrees.
  • Mercury amalgams have been banned in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and Germany and Austria have banned their use in pregnant women and children up to age 18.
  • Galvanic action between gold and amalgam fillings can cause a heightened constant release of mercury, even when they haven't been stimulated.   
by Robert P. McBride, D.D.S., M.A.G.D.

Mercury part 2

Protocol for a patient desiring to have their mercury amalgam fillings removed/replace:
Alternate oxygen breathing system for Dr., assistant and patient

More information about mercury fillings is in the book "The Poison in Your Teeth"
which can be obtained from Dr. Tom McGuire’s website.

Protocol for a patient desiring to have their mercury amalgam fillings removed/replaced:

  • New patient examination including an initial interview with the doctor.
  • Many new patients are working with a health care provider and have a mercury detoxification program in place already.  For those who don’t and would wish to develop one, I recommend Dr. Tom McGuire’s book, “Mercury Detoxification” http://dentalwellness4u.com/index.html for adjunctive procedures such as blood testing, Melisa test, supplements, activated charcoal, vitamin C infusions etc. 

Filling removal procedures:

  • Rubber dam is placed to keep filling debris from being swallowed.
  • Fillings are kept cool with copious amounts of cold water during filling removal to minimize mercury vapor release.
  • Fillings are "chunked" out, rather than being drilled away completely which results in very minute particles causing more vapor.
  • High-volume evacuation is used to capture amalgam particles and mercury vapor.
  •  Oxygen masks for Dr, assistant and nasal hood for patient during their removal.
  • Clean up immediately after their removal - we remove and dispose of our gloves and rubber dam, and thoroughly rinse and vacuum the entire mouth for at least 10 seconds.
  • Treatment room air is filtered to capture residual mercury vapor and other contaminants.