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Amalgam Separators

Very small pieces of amalgam are released when a dentist places or removes a restoration. (You might know an “amalgam restoration” as a “silver-colored filling”).  These pieces usually collect in the office’s wastewater, which goes into the public sewer system. 

Amalgam separators can be used to collect the amalgam pieces so they can be recycled rather than enter the sewer system. 

Their use is recommended in the ADA Best Management Practices for Amalgam Waste.

Please note: The ADA does not provide specific answers to individual questions about fees, dental problems, conditions, diagnoses, treatments or proposed treatments, or requests for research. Information about dental referrals, complaints and a variety of dental procedures may be found on ADA.org.

Overview

Amalgam separators are devices designed to remove amalgam waste particles from dental office wastewater. Without an amalgam separator, these particles can be suctioned into the dental unit vacuum line and discharged into the public sewer system.

The effort to reduce amalgam waste discharge from the dental office stems from increasing pressure facing local wastewater treatment plants to reduce the concentration of mercury in effluent from their plants and minimize the concentration of mercury in sludge.

The ADA's "Best Management Practices for Amalgam Waste" (BMPs) include the use of amalgam separators. Although there is no national regulation requiring the installation of amalgam separators, state and local requirements exist in some areas. Check with your state or local dental society to see if any requirements exist in your area.

The Journal of the American Dental Association

Additional Resources

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