The study further indicates that standard methods appear to be inadequate when assessing mercury exposure during drilling on dental amalgam because these methods do not account for an overlooked source: mercury vapor emitted from particles of the filling that are generated by drilling. However, the new data also emphasizes that specific safety measures can mitigate these mercury levels and provide more rigorous protection for patients and dental workers.
“For decades, our non-profit organization has been concerned about this issue and collected research about amalgam fillings, all of which contain approximately 50% mercury, a known neurotoxin,” explains IAOMT President Michael Rehme, DDS, NMD. “Based on this science, we have strongly recommended that safety measures be enacted for dental procedures involving these silver colored fillings, and we have also intensely advocated for the end of dental amalgam usage.”
Dr. Rehme adds that the IAOMT hopes publicizing the new study will bring about much-needed and long-awaited changes in dental practices involving mercury. In the meantime, some countries have already banned dental amalgam fillings, while others have recently prohibited their use for pregnant women and children. Yet, dental mercury is still being used in the USA and other regions with no enforced restrictions for women, children, or any populations.
In addition to acknowledging health risks for dental patients with these mercury-containing fillings, a growing body of scientific research has recognized hazards for dentists and dental professionals, who routinely clean, polish, place, remove, and replace amalgam fillings. After analysis of the previously published research about mercury releases during amalgam removal, crucial new data is quantified in the latest study on this topic, which is entitled “Mercury vapor volatilization from particulate generated from dental amalgam removal with a high-speed dental drill – a significant source of exposure.”
Lead author David Warwick, DDS, notes of the study: “Based on our findings, we are recommending dentists implement engineering controls as required by OSHA in addition to the supplemental recommendations identified in our study when amalgam is drilled on by a high-speed drill. This insures that patients and dental workers are properly protected. These methods should be applied during preparation for restoration, establishment of an endodontic access opening as performed for root canal treatment, sectioning of a tooth during extraction, and the removal of amalgam fillings in a clinic setting or in a laboratory setting in dental schools.”
The IAOMT has developed a Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART) based on scientific literature about amalgam filling removal. SMART is a series of special precautions dentists can apply to protect patients, themselves, other dental professionals, and the environment by immensely reducing the levels of mercury that can be released during the amalgam filling removal process.