Dental fillings are an important part of oral healthcare, but the dental amalgam used to fill our cavities should be recycled to protect the environment.
The small amount of mercury found within dental amalgam is safe for humans, but old dental fillings typically end up going down the drain when your dentist replaces them.
So much so, it’s estimated that the average dental surgery generates half a kilogram of mercury waste every year.
Luckily, dentists can do their bit by installing an amalgam separator to trap filling waste as it gets washed down the sink in their practice.
While most brands of dentist chairs are fitted with amalgam separators these days, some older chairs don’t have them, meaning that mercury-containing amalgam travels into sewers and eventually into the environment.
These separators also need to be emptied and cleaned regularly to make sure they perform well.
Here are three reasons why dentists should recycle dental amalgam fillings:
1. Recycling amalgam keeps harmful materials out of the environment
Recycling dental amalgam helps keep toxic mercury out of the environment and protects flora and fauna from mercury poisoning.
The problem with mercury is that once it reaches our sewers, it can end up in waterways, lakes and oceans, where bacteria converts the metallic mercury into highly dangerous methylmercury.
Methylmercury can contaminate small organisms and then bio-magnify up through the food chain to the fish that eventually ends up on our dinner plates.
2. Recovering dental amalgam prevents health hazards
Recovering dental amalgam also averts human health disasters like the Minamata tragedy in the mid-1950s.
Communities in the Japanese city of Minamata were devastated after a nearby factory poured methylmercury into the sea, leading to mercury poisoning that caused severe neurological symptoms and many deaths.
The mercury contamination still exists in the area more than 60 years on, with people urged to avoid certain types of fish as part of a healthy diet.
3. It’s incredibly easy to recycle dental amalgam
To start recycling dental amalgam, it just takes a quick call or a short online survey to get the ball rolling.
As Australasia’s largest mercury recycler, Ecocycle provides a comprehensive service for dental practices, including separator cleaning and the collection and recycling of amalgam waste.
We are equipped to service all brands of amalgam separators, including Cattani, Metasys, Durr, William Green and Sirona.
If you don’t have a separator, we can provide and install the ECOAS04 Amalgam Separator, as well as collect and process the waste.
To find out more about our dental amalgam services, fill out the form below or give us a call on 1300 32 62 92.