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Oral Galvanism: How Dental Metal Restorations Can Cause Health Problems

In dentistry, various types of materials are used in order to restore or replace a damaged tooth. More often than not these otherwise durable materials are made of metal and are used for fabrication of full-metal or metal-reinforced crowns, mercury “silver” fillings, orthodontic brackets and retainers, removable partial dentures, and titanium implants. However, these metals are not biocompatible as they release metal ions and challenge the immune system causing hypersensitivities and allergies and have been linked to autoimmune diseases. An example of metal used in dental restorations is chromium, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, titanium, tin, and zinc. Amalgam fillings are also composed of mercury which continuously vaporizes, easily passes through the lungs, and is distributed throughout the body. Mercury is extremely toxic and has been singled out as a potent neurotoxin causing ADD, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, as well as depression, insomnia, irritability, mental instability, and anxiety just to name a few. The idea of mercury released from dental amalgam being very toxic and causing health issues is slowly but surely becoming a common knowledge. However, a lesser known phenomenon called oral galvanism is much less obvious to the unsuspecting and is the culprit of many symptoms.

In the presence of electrolyte-rich saliva, a battery effect between two or more dissimilar metal dental restorations causes an electrical current known as oral galvanism. This can lead to various sensations such as metallic or salty taste, burning or tingling of the tongue, increased salivary flow, visible changes to the oral mucosa, occasional nerve shock or nerve sensitivity when touching the restoration with a metal utensil, or generalized discomfort in the mouth including trigeminal neuralgia. Furthermore, symptoms or ailments can be systemic and effect different organs leading to pathological changes in the blood, kidneys, and other organs as well as leading to irritability, poor digestion, and weight loss. Other systemic complications may include headaches, chronic fatigue, memory loss, sleep deprivation, and so on due to its effect on the central nervous system. This galvanic current has also been shown to increase the release of metal ions leading to a build-up of corrosive products and systemic heavy metal toxicity in the long run.

This electro-galvanic microcurrent generated by dissimilar dental alloys takes place just inches away from the brain. Just to put this into perspective, the brain operates on 7 to 9 nano-amps which is 1,000 times weaker than the currents resulting from non-precious metals found in the oral cavity. Adding this much excess of electrical activity surely has the potential of creating misdirected impulses in the brain!

What is the solution? Metal-free dentistry is gaining traction as ceramic, zirconia, and composite resin alternatives are gaining popularity as more biocompatible options and you should always ask for a metal-free product. However, if you already have metal dental restorations in your mouth, it is imperative to find a biological or holistic dentist that is well-versed in the safe removal of these metal dental restorations. This is important due to the fact that unsafe levels of heavy metals are generated when drilling and protective barriers and other precautions are necessary. International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine both have certification programs that teach the dentists specific protocols to keep the patient and staff safe during the removal procedure. Both of these organizations also list providers that have been certified for this protocol. Every state now has several providers that took the time to study and implement these protocols. Please note that dental schools across the world do not teach biocompatibility of dental materials to any meaningful extent and many well-meaning dentists are unaware of systemic toxicity of heavy metals and galvanic electrocurrents stemming from the materials routinely used in dentistry. And last but not least, if you had your metal dental restorations removed, you will need to do what is called heavy-metal detoxification that pulls heavy metals out of the tissue and cells where it tends to bioaccumulate and cause harm. Heavy-metal detox needs to be done under a supervision of an experienced medical doctor and should not be attempted without this supervision.

Dr. Martina Mallery, DDS, AIAOMT is accredited biological dentist practicing in Bradenton, Florida at White Sands Dentistry, 520 48th Street Ct E, Bradenton, FL 34208. Office phone number (941) 748-9393. Website


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