If you have one or more mercury fillings in your mouth, you need to be aware that the toxicity of this material can be hazardous to your health. For this reason, you should discuss these fillings with your dentist during your next regularly scheduled cleaning. In many cases, your dentist will want to remove the mercury filling to replace it with a composite filling. Given the health risks of mercury, the process of removing a mercury filling is heavily involved. Your dentist will take a number of safety precautions to ensure that you don't end up ingesting any of the mercury as he or she is removing it. Here are three of those main safety precautions.
Use Of A Dam
Your dentist will use a dam to isolate the tooth in question. If you have multiple teeth that have mercury fillings, he or she will work on them one at a time, repositioning the dam for each procedure — or using a new one entirely. A dam consists of a piece of latex with a small opening it in that goes directly over the tooth. The dam is then positioned to cover your entire mouth. This means that when your mouth is open for the procedure, the tooth is all that will be visible. As the dentist grinds the mercury filling away, the shavings or even the dust cannot go into your mouth because of the dam.
Use Of A Suction Unit
As the dentist focuses on removing the mercury filling, his or her dental hygienist will use a suction unit to suck up the remnants of the filling. This isn't a device that should cause you any concern; it's the same type of device that the hygienist uses to suction away the saliva in your mouth during a tooth cleaning or any dental procedure. The use of the device means that little, if any, mercury should even come into contact with the dam for more than a brief instant.
Use Of Oxygen
You might be surprised when your dentist indicates that you'll be fitting for an oxygen nose piece when you get a mercury filling removed. This device gently blows oxygen into your nostrils, helping you to breathe. The use of the oxygen has two purposes. Some people will find that because their mouth is covered by the dam, oxygen helps them to stay calmer because they can breathe more easily. Additionally, the oxygen blowing directly into your nose reduces the amount of air from the room that you breathe, which is good because there could be tiny, airborne particles of mercury.