safe dentistry questions to ask dentistPatient health and safety is a dentist’s number one priority. We encourage our patients to become informed about how common dental practices affect their health and the precautions that dentists should take to ensure their safety.

We’ve compiled a list of questions you should ask your dentist to determine their commitment to safe dental practices.

4 Questions to Ask Your Dentist to Ensure Your Safety

Is your office BPA-free?

BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a resin used in many types of plastics. Evidence suggests that BPA can harm human health, and poses a danger to child development. While BPA is not found in dental sealants and fillings, many contain BPA derivatives.  Contact with saliva can turn these compounds into BPA. Extra care should be taken by dentists to use sealants and composites that do not contain BPA derivatives.

To avoid the danger of BPA, ask your dentist if they use BPA-free composites and sealants and inquire about the precautions they take to avoid BPA exposure.

Do you use nitrous oxide?

While nitrous oxide is commonly used in dentistry as a mild sedative to help patients relax, there are minor risks to patients but significant risks to staff with prolonged or high levels of exposure. If the level of nitrous oxide is too high, patients could experience nausea or vomiting, headache, fatigue, dizziness, and/or excessive sweating or shivering. Motor skills and attention can be affected for 15 minutes after the use of nitrous oxide, making it risky to drive.

As for staff, while the systems prevent leakage around the mask, if the patient exhales through their mouth rather than their nose, which commonly occurs while their mouth is open, the dentist and assistant are affected. Besides the obvious short-term effects of the dentist and staff breathing nitrous oxide gas, studies have shown long-term issues affecting staff and their unborn child.

Are you a mercury-free dental practice?

Studies have shown that mercury is a neurotoxin. Although amalgam fillings used in the past contained mercury, their use is no longer acceptable in dentistry. Today, composite fillings are used which are mercury-free and safe. However, amalgam fillings containing mercury are often removed from the teeth, causing potential harm to the patient. Precautions should be taken to reduce the risk of exposure.

Ask your dentist about their amalgam filling removal process to ensure the risk is minimized. Amalgams can be removed carefully and safely. Dentists will typically use a rubber dam and high-velocity suction when removing amalgam fillings.

Do you use an air filtration system?  

Many dentists are taking extra precautions to minimize the dangers of exposure to harmful contaminants in the air. Filtration systems that rid the air of germs, allergens and toxic chemicals should be used to ensure patient safety.

Talk to your dentist about the safety procedures they have in place. Make the choice to visit a dentist who places a high priority on patient safety.

At Ultimate Smile Design, we minimize the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals. We are a BPA-free, mercury-free dental practice. We do not use nitrous oxide. Our office uses a filtration system to rid the air of germs, allergens and toxic chemicals. Feel free to contact Ultimate Smile Design in our Palm Bay, FL office to discuss any dental safety concerns you may have. We hope to be your choice for safe dental practices.