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How to Talk to Patients Who Are Worried About Amalgam Fillings

 

Often referred to as ‘silver’ fillings, amalgam fillings are an incredibly popular dental option. In fact, they’re the most commonly used filling in Canada.

 

Consisting of metals such as mercury, copper, silver, and tin, amalgam fillings have the advantage of being inexpensive and long-lasting. Plus, putting them in place is relatively straightforward and hassle-free. Usually, your patients will only require one visit to complete these fillings.

 

However, you might’ve noticed more patients raising concerns about these restorations, especially those who have received amalgam fillings in the past.

 

Often, these conversations are rooted in the toxicity of mercury and its perceived effects on the patient’s health.

 

Dental Amalgam: A Quick Review

 It’s worth noting that, yes, higher levels of mercury will adversely impact the brain and kidneys.

 

However, it is the position of both the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) that dental amalgam is a stable, safe and affordable substance for use in dental restorations.

 

Further, research from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) demonstrates that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children above the age of six, with no known health problems linked to amalgam. 

 

Less is known about the effects of amalgam on the long-term health outcomes of pregnant women, developing fetuses, and children under six-years-old. However, evidence suggests that infants are not at risk for adverse health effects from the mercury in the breast milk of mothers exposed to mercury vapour from dental amalgam.

 

Should Existing Amalgam Fillings Be Removed?

Interestingly, the risks of mercury are more than likely to be exacerbated in removing an amalgam restoration than leaving it intact.

 

Why? Because the toxic components are safely contained when the amalgam is left alone in your patients’ mouths, but could detach in the process removing the filling. 

 

Though, like everything in this world, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. There are times when it’s best to replace these fillings.

 

Namely, once amalgam restorations reach the 2-year mark, it’s wise to consider replacements. Similarly, if this manner of filling is damaged in any way, they should be replaced. And provided such a restoration has irregular margins or overhangs and is causing resulting gingival inflammation, a replacement should likely occur. Lastly, any recurrent decay beneath the filling means that a replacement ought to take place.

 

Now, if a patient falls under the above categories but is currently experiencing health issues, you must consult their physician. Such ailments include memory loss, heart palpitations, deficiencies, a heavy viral or toxic load, or a sensitive nervous system.

 

Removal in the above cases could potentially trigger their sickness and make them far more ill.

 

How to Discuss These Matters with Patients

When consulting with your dental patients about keeping or removing their amalgam, the conversation should mainly center around mitigating harm.

 

First, you must set your patients at ease about any concerns they might have about long-term safety and potential associated with replacements. Have this conversation before you jot down any detailed notes of these discussions in your official records.

 

Furthermore, don’t be afraid to recommend a second opinion on the matter. Not only will this establish trust between you and your patient, but it’s a safe and sound practice as a dental professional.

 

Your patient’s health, well-being, as well as their mental state should be a top priority. Treatments must be in their best interest while adhering to the current practices and teachings that are deemed most sound by dental authorities.

 

Suzanne Chalk at 8:31 AM
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7 Practical Self-Care Habits for Dental Hygienists

 

 

Working in dentistry can be extremely tough on your body.

 

In fact, compared to other professionals, dental hygienists are at a far greater risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) that affect the soft and hard tissues. Between 60% and 96% of hygienists suffering from neck, shoulder, wrist, hand, or back pain.

 

Furthermore, since you spend practically all day helping people, you’re dealing with prolonged exposure to physical and psychological stress. Chairside burnout is a genuine and problematic issue for many hygienists.

 

Taking care of yourself as a dental professional is a must! Here, we’ll discuss 7 tips that’ll help you perform at your best on the job without compromising your physical or mental health.

 

1. Focus on Ergonomics

In short, ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. Really, the idea is for you to be honed in to your own posture and position.

 

For a dental hygienist such as yourself, the following facets of your job should be optimized for ergonomics:

  • Room configurations
  • Loupes and lighting
  • Handpieces
  • Instrument type and grip
  • Operator chair
  • Ability to move around your patient

One example of an effective ergonomic measure is using anatomical or “handed” gloves instead of ambidextrous gloves (which put up to 33% more pressure on the thumbs and fingers). Also, remember to stretch regularly throughout the day!

 

2. Practicing Yoga

Since you’re a hygienist, you must find the balance between physicality and mentality. And breathing techniques employed in yoga can be that centring factor.

 

Yoga’s focus on breathing and posture helps combat the various musculoskeletal issues and burnout you might face.

 

For instance, savasana – the final meditative posture – helps establish a calm and reduction of blood pressure. It also aids in better sleep and reduction of stress.

 

3. Start a Cryotherapy Regime

Having first been used in Japan in the 1970s, cryotherapy exposes the body to a -100°C temperature for around one to four minutes. Cryotherapy chambers can be entire rooms or structures that resemble barrels that expose you, neck-down, to the liquid nitrogen.

 

There is an array of studies and scientific evidence that prove the value of these treatments. Namely, for dental hygienists, cryotherapy helps treat musculoskeletal pain and related ailments.

 

4. Visiting the Chiropractor

Chiropractors use a holistic approach to treating musculoskeletal disorders. Primarily, such treatments center around proper spine alignment. With the adjustments provided, chiropractic professionals believe that healing is enabled without the need for surgery or pharmaceuticals.

 

There is a wealth of techniques and methods of treatments, such as manual-diversified techniques. All chiropractors are different, so treatment lengths differ depending on their philosophy.

 

5. Treat Yourself to a Massage

While the title of this section suggests that massages are something of a treat, in your profession, they’re a necessity for keeping happy and healthy!

 

In utilizing rhythmical pressure and stroking, massage therapists help prevent, develop, maintain, rehabilitate and augment physical function while relieving pain.

 

Now, the benefits of massages can be short term, but they do improve lymph flow and prevent fibrosis, for instance. Also, they increase serotonin levels and provide endorphins, which helps with the anxiety and stress you may feel on the job.

 

6. Stick to Acupuncture

Not only does acupuncture have proven results, it’s specifically been useful for dental hygienists who’ve been suffering from musculoskeletal disorders.

 

This form of treatment theorizes that an imbalance in the body’s energy flow (or chi/qi) causes illness. This flow of energy is accessible through around 350 points on the body where thin needles are inserted to restore balance and harmony.

 

7. Take Time to Meditate

It’s believed by many that meditative practices play a big part in improving psychological, neurological, and cardiovascular function.

Best of all? There’s no gym membership or meditation guru needed. All you have to do is sit upright and still while focusing your attention on something like breathing.

 

With these 7 methods of self-care, you’ll feel happier and healthier in your dental practice!

 

Suzanne Chalk at 4:54 PM
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