Inquiring minds in the holistic dentistry community have a burning question: What’s the difference between mercury-free and mercury-safe dentistry? And it’s a great question, as they are two very different things.
Dr. Tom McGuire explains that “mercury-free” simply means that a given dentist doesn’t use mercury amalgam or “silver” fillings in their patients’ teeth. The term was coined about 40 years ago when those dentists wanted to distinguish themselves from other dentists who felt mercury amalgam fillings were harmless.
Mercury-free dentists still had patients with amalgam fillings from previous dental work though, and removing the fillings still exposed the patient to vapors from the mercury. Over time though, these mercury-free dentists were able to develop safer protocols for extracting hazardous fillings that minimize patient exposure to the toxin. Dentists who are mercury-free and utilize these safe practices are what are now referred to as “mercury-safe.”
It is important to know that “mercury-free” does not always equal “mercury-safe.” The best thing to do is ask your dentist if they are both mercury-free and -safe. And find a new one if they aren’t!