Dentists all over the world remove millions of amalgam fillings every day, with no regard for the possible mercury exposure that can result from grinding them out. Much of the time, a new amalgam filling goes back in place of the old one. The dental establishment claims that amalgam is a stable material, that emits little or no mercury, but then turns around and blames the mercury–free dentists for “unnecessarily exposing patients to excess mercury” when removing amalgams electively. Well, which is it? Stable, or mercury emitting?
We know beyond any doubt that amalgam emits mercury, as elaborated in the related article, “The Scientific Case Against Mercury Amalgam.” (attached to the bottom of this article). Finished amalgam on the bench at 37 C will emit as much as 43.5 µg of mercury vapor per square centimeter of surface area per day, for extended periods of time.(1)
IAOMT safe amalgam removal protocol
Samples of the leading brands of amalgam kept in water at 23o C released 4.5 to 21 µg per square centimeter per day.(2) Cutting the amalgam with a dental bur produces very small particles with vastly increased surface area, and vastly increased potential for subjecting the people present to a mercury exposure. In fact, in a recently published experiment, volunteers with no amalgam fillings swallowed capsules of milled amalgam particles, and, sure enough, their blood mercury levels increased.(3) These authors concluded that “the GI uptake of mercury from amalgam particles is of quantitative importance.” Molin, et. al. demonstrated a three to four fold increase in plasma mercury the next day, and a 50% rise in urine mercury for a month following amalgam removal in ten subjects, after which their mercury levels began to decline.(4) Snapp, et. al.(5) showed that efforts to reduce mercury exposure during amalgam removal resulted in less uptake of mercury than that cited in the Molin study
Less well studied than mercury vapor is the problem of amalgam particulates. Taking out fillings with a high speed dental bur generates a cloud of particles, at least 65% of which are one micron or less in size. These are fully respirable, get deep into the lungs, where the microscopic particles are broken down and the mercury is systemically absorbed within a few days. This mercury exposure can be as much as a hundred times greater than that from the vapor.(6, 7)
This article will cover the physical methods, the barrier and ventilation techniques, that can be used in any dental office. The techniques in this chapter have been checked with the aid of the Jerome mercury vapor detector by IAOMT members, and found to reduce mercury vapor in the air that the patients and dental staff breathe. Even though it has not been tested experimentally and published in peer reviewed journals, experience indicates that when the dentist fastidiously reduces mercury exposure while removing amalgams, the patients report fewer episodes of feeling sick afterwards.