SMART is an acronym for the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique. This technique was developed by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) and it ensures that all patients (and our dental team) are protected during the mercury removal process. According to many studies, silver (amalgam) fillings can contain up to 50% mercury, which may lead to many overall health issues. Mercury has been correlated with depression, anxiety, chronic illnesses, constant fatigue, fetal deformities, and more. For this reason, many patients with old metal fillings wish to have them removed.
According to the IAOMT, all metal fillings contain approximately 50% mercury.
At your consultation, your doctor will examine your existing metal fillings and determine if they need to be replaced. If they are in good condition and do not pose a threat to your health, your doctor may recommend they stay in place. In most cases, though, it is beneficial to have them replaced.
During your filling removal, your doctor will wear protective covers, and you will be protected with a drape as well. A high vacuum filtration system will be present in the operatory to remove any mercury vapor produced from the removal of your silver fillings.
To ensure you do not inhale any harmful vapors, you will be breathing oxygen through a face mask throughout the duration of the procedure. Your doctor will also place a dental dam in your mouth to seal off the area being worked on.
Once all precautionary measures are in place, your dentist will begin removing the metal amalgam fillings with a precise drill, suction, and water.
After the metal filling has been removed, your doctor will give you a slurry of charcoal and water to rinse with. By rinsing with a slurry, the charcoal will absorb any potential residual amounts of metal that may have entered your mouth.
Finally, your tooth will be filled with a durable composite filling where the metal filling once was. Composite fillings preserve the structure of your tooth while also enhancing its overall appearance.
Metal fillings can appear dark and unsightly in your smile. Even when they are placed in the rear teeth, they can still be visible when you laugh, smile, and speak. By replacing these metal fillings, patients can enjoy the aesthetic benefits of natural-looking tooth colored composite fillings.
Studies have shown that some cases of mercury poisoning have been linked to depression and other mental health issues. While rare, these potential outcomes can be avoided by removing the presence of mercury in your mouth. In some cases of mercury poisoning due to inhalation or ingestion of mercury vapor, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and social withdrawal have occurred.
In addition to negative mental health correlations, studies have shown that mercury in the bloodstream can lead to chronic and long term illnesses such as alzheimers, cardiovascular problems, and renal dysfunction.
Modern composite fillings adhere better to the teeth than traditional metal fillings do. This means that composite fillings require the removal of less tooth enamel than metal fillings. For this reason, many dentists will recommend replacing a metal filling that has failed with a composite filling to preserve as much of the natural tooth structure as possible. This keeps your teeth healthier and stronger in the long run.
Mercury was used in metal fillings until 2009.
No. The entire area surrounding the tooth will be numb throughout the process. You may be able to feel slight pressure from the drill, but you should not feel any pain. In some cases, sedation options may be available to you to help keep you blissfully unaware and relaxed during your SMART procedure. If you’re interested in exploring your options for sedation, book a consultation with your doctor today!
The length of the procedure will vary based on each patient's unique needs. The size and amount of metal fillings being removed will have an effect on the length of the procedure. However, it usually takes about the same amount of time as having a filling placed per tooth.
In some cases your metal filling removal may be covered by your insurance if it is determined to be a necessary treatment as opposed to an elective one. If you are looking to have your metal fillings removed for cosmetic reasons alone and they are deemed to be in good condition and not posing a threat to your health, you may incur some out of pocket fees. To better understand your insurance coverage, contact your provider. Our team is also happy to answer any questions you may have to ensure you are getting the most out of your dental insurance benefits.
In most cases metal fillings will need to be removed. This is usually due to the age of the filling. Now, most dentists use composite fillings so it is likely that if you have a metal filling, it may be failing. This can lead to additional tooth decay, so it is important to have your fillings checked to see if they are functioning properly. On top of any potential tooth decay, it is usually safer to have metal fillings removed proactively to lessen the risk of developing mercury poisoning (and its side effects) in the future.
As you brush, chew, and clench your teeth, your metal fillings could be releasing harmful mercury vapor.