The SMART Choice

Make the SMART choice to protect your health by learning about the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART) from the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) offered by White Sands Dentistry.

Watch below to see Dr. Mallery and her assistant perform SMART, a safe amalgam removal alternative.  In this technique, Dr. Mallery and Donna are removing an amalgam filling with utmost safety, maintaining a pure oxygen airway for the patient, barriers for both clinician and patient while eliminating the potential of mercury vapor inhalation. 

All silver amalgam fillings contain approximately 50% mercury which is harmful to human health and the environment. Mercury is continuously released from amalgam fillings, and it is absorbed and retained in the body, particularly in the brain, kidney, liver, lung, and gastrointestinal tract. Although a number of other countries have banned or limited the use of silver amalgam fillings, dental mercury is currently used on about 45% of direct dental restorations worldwide, including in the USA. 

Scientific research demonstrates that dental mercury amalgam exposes dental professionals, dental staff, dental patients, and fetuses to releases of mercury vapor, mercury-containing particulate, and/or other forms of mercury contamination. Furthermore, mercury vapor is known to be released from dental mercury amalgam fillings at higher rates during brushing, cleaning, clenching of teeth, chewing, etc., mercury is also known to be released during the placement, replacement, and removal of dental mercury amalgam fillings. Essentially, an unsafe amalgam removal process releases mercury vapor and particles that can be harmful to the patient, the dentist, the dental staff, and the environment.

Our office has adopted the IAOMT protocol recommendations for amalgam removal known as the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART). Dr. Mallery is SMART Certified. SMART Certified, “mercury-safe” dentists apply special techniques to remove dental mercury amalgam fillings. While “mercury-free” dentists no longer place amalgam fillings and use available mercury-free alternatives, “mercury-safe” dentists apply special techniques to remove existing amalgam fillings. Based on up-to-date scientific research, the IAOMT has developed rigorous recommendations for removing existing dental mercury amalgam fillings to assist in reducing the potential negative outcomes of mercury exposure to patients, dental professionals, dental students, office staff, and others. The IAOMT’s recommendations are known as the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART).  

Utilizing the most up-to-date science and research, the IAOMT has developed extensive safety recommendations for removal of existing dental mercury amalgam fillings, including detailed protective measures that are to be utilized for the procedure. The IAOMT’s innovative recommendations build upon traditional safe amalgam removal techniques such as the use of masks, water irrigation, and high volume suction by supplementing these conventional strategies with a number of additional protective measures, the need for which have only recently been identified in scientific research.

 

These recommendations include the following measures, which are listed here with scientific research:

  • An amalgam separator should be properly installed, utilized, and maintained to collect mercury amalgam waste so that it is not released into the effluent from the dental office.

  • Each room where mercury fillings are removed should have adequate filtration in place, which requires a high-volume air filtration system (such as an at source oral aerosol vacuum) capable of removing mercury vapor and amalgam particles generated during the removal of one or more mercury fillings.

  • If possible, windows should be opened to reduce the mercury concentration in the air.

  • The patient should be given a slurry of charcoal, chlorella, or similar adsorbent to rinse and swallow before the procedure (unless the patient declines or there are other contraindications making this clinically inappropriate).

  • Protective gowns and covers for the dentist, dental personnel, and the patient should be in place. All present in the room should be protected because substantial quantities of particles generated during the procedure will elude collection by suction devices. It has been demonstrated that these particles can be spread from the patient’s mouth to the patient’s knee, and to the chest, shoulder, and neck of the dentist and dental assistant.

  • Non-latex nitrile gloves should be utilized by the dentist and all dental personnel in the room.

  • Face shields and hair/head coverings are to be utilized by the dentist and all dental personnel in the room.

  • Either a properly-sealed, respiratory grade mask rated to capture mercury or a positive pressure, properly-sealed mask providing air or oxygen should be worn by the dentist and all dental personnel in the room.

  • In order to protect the patient’s skin and clothing, a full body, impermeable barrier, as well as a full head/face/neck barrier under/around the dam, should be utilized.

  • External air or oxygen delivered via a nasal mask for the patient also should be utilized to assure the patient does not inhale any mercury vapor or amalgam particulate during the procedure. A nasal cannula is an acceptable alternative for this purpose as long as the patient’s nose is completely covered with an impermeable barrier.

  • A dental dam that is made with non-latex nitrile material should be placed and properly sealed in the patient’s mouth.

  • A saliva ejector should be placed under the dental dam to reduce mercury exposure to the patient.

  • During amalgam filling removal, the dentist should utilize an at source oral aerosol vacuum in close proximity to the operating field (i.e., two to four inches from the patient’s mouth) to mitigate mercury exposure.

  • High speed evacuation produces better capture when fitted with a Clean Up device, which is preferred.

  • Copious amounts of water to reduce heat and a conventional high speed evacuation device to capture mercury discharges should be used to reduce ambient mercury levels.

  • The amalgam should be sectioned into chunks and removed in as large of pieces as possible, using a small diameter carbide drill.

  • Once the removal process is complete, the patient’s mouth should be thoroughly flushed with water and then rinsed out with a slurry of charcoal, chlorella or similar adsorbent.

  • Dentists must comply with federal, state, and local regulations addressing the proper handling, cleaning, and/or disposal of mercury-contaminated components, clothing, equipment, surfaces of the room, and flooring in the dental office.

  • During the opening and maintenance of suction traps in operatories or on the main suction unit, dental staff should utilize the appropriate personal protection equipment described above.

It is important to note that as a safety precaution, the IAOMT does not recommend amalgam filling removal for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and that the IAOMT does not recommend that dental personnel who are pregnant or breast-feeding conduct work that disrupts amalgam fillings (including their removal).

To learn more about the SMART Choice, visit http://thesmartchoice.com