Dental News

The EPA is Concerned About Dental Mercury–Should You Be Too?

January 24, 2015

EPA proposes new rule to limit release of mercury from dental offices.

The EPA is Concerned About Dental Mercury--Should You Be Too?Although mercury fillings are becoming less and less popular for the treatment of new cavities, many individuals do have old mercury fillings that were placed years ago. These fillings eventually need replacement, and it is this process more than the placement of new metal fillings that is causing concern at the EPA.

When dentists remove mercury fillings, this creates a potentially hazardous waste material that needs careful disposal. Many dentists already use state of the art technology and procedures to protect patients and the community from exposure to this material. However, in some cases mercury from old fillings ends up getting washed down the drain at dental offices, causing it to wind up in public water treatment facilities.

Experts estimate that about half of the mercury that accumulates in public water treatment plants comes from dental offices. This is a concern because mercury is a heavy metal, known to cause significant health problems at high levels of exposure.

A few months ago, the EPA announced its proposal for new standards that would help reduce the amount of dental mercury entering public water systems across the country by an estimated 9 tons per year. Basically, the rule calls for all dental practices to adopt the safety standards already employed by nearly 40 percent of dentists. The EPA is currently accepting comments on the proposed standard and hopes to have it finalized by September of 2015.

Should You Worry About Dental Mercury?

If you already have a mercury filling, take heart from the fact that an intact filling is not considered dangerous by the FDA. The minute amount of mercury released by an intact filing is less than the amount of mercury you would be exposed to from the environment on an ordinary day.

However, if your filling is damaged, or if you need to have it replaced, the exposure can increase. You need to be careful to choose an experienced dentist such as California Dental Group, who knows how to remove and dispose of dental mercury safely. You may choose to have a new mercury filling placed, or you may prefer to upgrade to a white composite filling that is completely metal-free and also provides a more natural, less noticeable solution for cavities. Come visit any one of our 7 locations to get help from a dentist with ample experience in safe placement of metal and metal-free fillings.

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