Concerns over mercury amalgam fillings has grown steadily over the past years. Many patients today want to to know what is the cost of mercury filling removal, while they try to find a dentist who can remove their mercury fillings in the safest way.
With this guide, our aim is to help you understand some basics about amalgam fillings, the cost of mercury filling removal and the main steps involved in the safe amalgam removal procedure.
THE COST OF MERCURY FILLING REMOVAL PROCEDURE
One of the most frequent questions patients ask when they want an amalgam removal procedure is: What is the cost of removing my mercury fillings?
As a patient, you must take into account that you need to have your mouth thoroughly examined before starting any dental treatment. This initial exam typically includes x-rays, intraoral pictures, and dental and medical history.
So when it comes to mercury filling removal, your dentist will carry out a comprehensive exam to determine a couple of things such as:
– the number of silver fillings you need to have removed
– the size of your mercury filling or fillings
– the location of your metal fillings
These factors will largely determine the cost of the procedure. A basic removal, which probably includes a small sized filling, can start at approximately $250 per tooth. Depending on the size, location and the condition of your metal fillings, prices may go up from this base price.
When a Simple Mercury Filling Removal Becomes a Headache…and Possibly a Money Pit
For example, if your mercury fillings are in good shape, replacing them with composite material will include the cost of a regular filling.
However, if the amalgam filling is leaking, or has affected the health or composition of the tooth, or if there is some decay in or around it, costs can go up considerably. There are cases where replacing your fillings will mean placing a crown or an onlay, as there would not be enough tooth structure to support a regular filling.
So, when estimating the price of a safe amalgam removal procedure, you also need to take into account other factors such as:
– Is the silver filling so big that you need further restoration of your tooth?
– If so, what kind of restoration do you need: a crown, an inlay, onlay or just a regular composite filling?
All these aspects will regulate the cost of your amalgam removal procedure. Make sure you can talk openly with your dentist about the prices of your treatment to know exactly how much you will be paying for the whole treatment
(TIP: Here’s another guide that talks about the different types of dental crowns and costs)
SOME BASIC FACTS ABOUT MERCURY
Mercury is considered toxic to our health. Although research studies have shown that mercury levels from amalgam fillings are not the direct cause of illnesses, concerns have grown over time. In 1991 the American Dental Association carried out a survey to evaluate people’s concern about mercury input in their bodies.
Today, if you asked anyone whether they would prefer to have their mercury fillings removed, most would certainly say, “Yes!”
And this need for removing amalgam fillings grows stronger when we read, for example, that the number of silver fillings in our mouth is directly linked to mercury levels in our body.
Research studies have also shown that mercury levels in our blood and urine decrease after a mercury filling removal.
The Potential Risks of Mercury
Mercury is a chemical element present in water sources, in the air and in many of the foods we eat (especially seafood). It is the long-term contact with mercury what makes it extremely dangerous. Too much contact with this metal may be harmful to your health and lead to symptoms such as anxiety, bad temper, memory loss, headaches, and weakness.
In the field of dentistry, amalgam fillings (a mixture of copper, silver, tin and about 50% mercury) have been widely used. They are strong and low cost. However, with advances in technology and materials, today the tendency to avoid metal fillings has grown (it is now also avoided in pregnant women and children under 6).
For a biological dentist, for example, it is much more convenient to work with more natural and aesthetic materials, such as tooth-colored composite resin. These holistic doctors prefer to work with non-toxic and more biocompatible materials.
BENEFITS OF REMOVING YOUR MERCURY FILLINGS
Many people who decide to have their silver fillings removed value the benefits of getting rid of mercury. Removing these silver fillings will:
- Avoid growing exposure and contact with mercury. Overtime, mercury vapors are released when we chew gum or eat hard foods such as grains.
- Give patients a “peace of mind” effect. People feel at ease when they know their mouths are free of toxic elements.
- Replacing silver fillings by natural looking composite fillings carries great aesthetics benefits. Patients will no longer feel self-conscious about the look of their smile.
- Some people who have experienced symptoms related to mercury poisoning will probably see them disappear or considerably reduced.
SO SHOULD YOU GET YOUR AMALGAM FILLINGS REMOVED?
Again, it all depends on your needs and wants. If your metal fillings are worn, cracked, or if there is severe decay beneath the metal filling, then you should definitely get them removed.
If your old fillings are fine, but you want to avoid the effects of mercury on your health, then you should get a mercury filling removal. Mercury amalgams release some amount of mercury in the form of vapors. This happens specially during brushing, chewing, grinding or drinking hot liquids, and in placement or removal procedures.
So if you decide to have your mercury fillings out, make sure you contact the right dental office.
It’s important to know that some dentists specialize in safe amalgam removal. They are trained to provide you with the safest treatment possible.
STEPS TO REMOVE AMALGAM FILLINGS SAFELY
The challenge you face when you have your old silver fillings removed is you may ingest some mercury in the process. Thus, the mercury can travel through your digestive track to the rest of your body, possibly affecting your immune system and increasing the level of heavy metal toxicity in your body. As a result, you could suffer appetite loss, anemia, lower resistance to infection and other mercury related symptoms.
To address this issue proactively, in that the risk of mercury poisoning during the procedure is minimized, removing amalgam fillings involves a carefully planned procedure. Not only professional training is required, but also the use of unique technology:
Safety glasses are put over your eyes to protect them.
We have you breathe pure oxygen through a nasal cannula (tube). This will minimize your breathing the air right around your face, which is full of mercury vapor. Your nose will be covered with a dental mask to help keep the mercury vapor from going into your nostrils.
A rubber dam or isolite will be placed over your mouth. This is a sheet of rubber that helps keep the mercury from going down your throat.
Copious amounts of cold water will be constantly squirted on the filling as it’s being drilled out, to keep the temperature down. To decrease the amount of vapor, we section the fillings out in chunks as opposed to grinding it out. We use an electric drill for two reasons: First, because it cuts so much more efficiently than an air turbine. Second, because it turns at slower revolutions per minute, there is less heating of the tooth and less mercury vapor.
HIGH SPEED SUCTION DEVICE
A High Volume Suction device will be used. This suction pulls all particles away from the tooth as the filling is being drilled out.
CHARCOAL AND CHLORELLA
Powdered charcoal and chlorella are placed in your mouth under the rubber dam. Both these substances have the ability to absorb mercury particles before they get absorbed into your system.
The fillings will be taken out with as little drilling as possible, in as large chunks as possible, to minimize the amount of mercury vapor released into the air.
4x magnifiers to see minute details in the tooth will be used. This could include faint cracks and leaking crowns or fillings. The dentist can also make sure that the new crown or filling fits perfectly. Trying to do this without magnification makes it harder to get perfect results. Problems areas in the gums are more visible under magnification than with the naked eye.
INDUSTRIAL AIR CLEANING SYSTEM
The treatment room has a powerful industrial air cleaning system which reduces the amount of mercury vapors. The IQ Air VOC Emissions and Infection Control Air Purifiers are highly specialized air cleaning systems that are designed to control Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and microbiological contaminants and odors. It removes airborne particles from less than 0.01 micron to over 250 micron in diameter. This includes contaminants such as bacteria and spores, such as E. Coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus thuringensis and Staphylococcus aureus. Other particles such as pollens, dust, smoke, hydrocarbons and vapors of heavy metals such as mercury vapor are also effected by the IQ Air System.
POST AMALGAM REMOVAL
After the removal of mercury fillings your dentist has to restore your tooth back to its form and function. Filling the spaces left by the removed amalgam is the next step. Depending on the size of the filling and the condition of the treated tooth, restoration options will vary. They may range from a simple composite filling to a full restoration, such as a dental crown.
That is why materials and the kind of restoration you get will vary according to your particular situation. Compatibility tests allow holistic dentists to evaluate the materials which will best suit your oral needs.
All in all, if you decide to have mercury fillings removed, make sure you opt for the right dental office. Pick a well-trained professional team that performs the amalgam filling removal under safety measures. After all, what you want is to minimize the risk of metal toxicity in your body and restore your teeth health, appearance and function.
Also, feel free to talk to your dentist about the cost of your mercury filling removal. Remember that prices will vary according to the size, location and condition of your existing silver fillings.
If you want to get more information about safe mercury filling removal, feel free to email or call Ocean Breeze Prosthodontics at
Phone: (561) 279-6999