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Natural Awakenings Hawaii

Biocompatible Materials Provide Mercury-Free Dental Restorations

Dec 29, 2014 07:27PM ● By Kamala Skipper

Dr. Dennis Nagata is the founder and director of the Hawaii Center for Cosmetic and Laser Dentistry. His three decades of dental experience include a degree in dental surgery from the University of Southern California and numerous postgraduate programs in aesthetic and functional dentistry. The Hawaii Center for Cosmetic and Laser Dentistry offers a diverse selection of dental services, such as cosmetic and restorative procedures, orthodontics, teeth whitening, implants and sleep apnea treatments.

The Center encompasses a philosophy of health that is based on many years of advanced research and innovative developments in dentistry. One area of growing interest is mercury-free dentistry and the removal of silver, or amalgam, dental fillings. Dental amalgam fillings contain about 50 percent elemental mercury. Some people are concerned that these fillings may expose them to mercury. Public awareness about potentially harmful health and environmental effects of amalgam fillings has grown over the years, and they have been banned in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Chronic mercury toxicity is reported to increase the risk and severity of health issues, ranging from psychological disturbances to immunological concerns.

According to Dr. Nagata, patients seeking alternatives to amalgam have choices.

“There are better materials available that are kinder to the teeth and require less enamel removal,” he says. “Using non-toxic, non-metal materials that are biocompatible with the body actually strengthens the tooth. In addition, the crown restoration can be achieved in a single visit; no temporary crowns are needed and there is no need to come back a second time.”

Over the course of his career, Dr. Nagata has seen many changes in the field of mercury-free dentistry, ranging from continuing advancements in science and technology to enhanced public perception. “This is the right time to have mercury fillings removed, because we have such superior replacement material and the option of a more conservative treatment,” he comments, noting a computer-aided design and manufacturing method called chairside economical restoration of esthetic ceramics (CEREC). “With the CEREC method, the tooth repair can be done in a single visit. The public has become more educated and aware of materials besides silver amalgam that can be used to restore teeth.”

To remove the amalgam, Dr. Nagata uses a process called “chunking”, in which the filling is sectioned into chunks. “We use a rubber dam to isolate the tooth, high-volume suction and a HEPA filter to minimize exposure to mercury vapor,” he explains. “In addition, we keep cooling the filling with water to reduce mercury vapor, and we provide the patient with a nasal hood to administer pure oxygen as an alternative source of air. And finally, there’s the chelation using vitamin C to eliminate any traces of silver mercury in the bloodstream.”

The complete removal and repair process can take between one and three visits, advises Dr. Nagata. “The process will be different for everyone, and we need to customize it according to the individual,” he notes. “From an initial consultation, I will be able to determine the extent of the mercury removal process. It’s generally better to take out as much of the mercury filling as possible at one time, but this will depend on the patient’s tolerance to dentistry. Between visits, we recommend rest and adequate vitamin C.” Dr. Nagata assures even the most fearful patients: “If you have silver fillings, it’s never too late. You can improve your health with CEREC and ceramic restorations. This removal process is very safe and comfortable with advanced technology. I highly recommend it, because you can prevent a lifetime of problems with the right material.”

Hawaii Center for Cosmetic & Laser Dentistry is located at 1520 Liliha St., Ste. 703, in Honolulu. For more information, call 808-526-0670 or visit

Kamala Skipper is an integrative health and wellness coach in Oahu. 

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