Is My Dentist Too Old School?

I’ve been going to my dentist for over 15 years. I really like him, but I’m wondering if he’s losing his touch. I don’t think he always keeps up with his field anymore. I asked him to remove one of my dental fillings because of the amalgam content and he said it’s not safe to do that and I should just leave it in. Can you please explain to me if it is not safe to remove because I’ll ingest some mercury, why it is supposedly safe to have it in my mouth at all?


Dear Carrie,

Image left of silver amalgam fillings loaded with mercury. Image right: mercury-free composite fillings
Mercury-Free Dentists Know How to Do Sanitary Amalgam Removals

You asked a great question. Why should a patient feel safe having mercury in their filling if it is considered unsafe to remove it? Your dentist should be asking the same question. The truth is, you can have this filling removed safely if that is what you want. However, you’ll have to go to a different dentist to have it done.

You’ll want a dentist who knows how to do a sanitary amalgam removal. You could do an internet search for a “mercury-free dentist” online. They’ll know the proper method for preventing you from inhaling any mercury vapors or swallowing any bits. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding one unless you live in a very isolated area.

That leads me to the other issue you brought up. Your dentist not keeping up with the advancements in his field. This is actually a big issue. While most states have a minimum amount of continuing education dentists must take every year, some dentists do just that—the bare minimum.

You want a dentist who is passionate about his work. Science changes all the time. That’s because we learn more as we go along. I once looked at an old magazine which had an advertisement promoting the superiority of lead paint. Now we know it is toxic. This is why you want a medical professional to keep up. It’s a lot of work doing that, which is why a passion for your field makes it easier to keep up. It’s likely time for you to find a dentist who still has that passion.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.