Are Dental Materials Safe?

It is important to think about the dental materials used in your mouth. Repairing damaged teeth involves the use of fillings, crowns, bridges and dentures (both full and partial), as well as dental surgery and implants when necessary.  Both conventional and holistic or biologic dentists use these types of restorations and surgery to repair the damage of dental disease, but the choice of what restoration to use and when to use it may vary considerably.

Generally, conventional dentists use materials they like best.  Holistic dentists will recommend that the patient be tested for material compatibility in order to avoid materials that may cause a sensitivity or allergy.

When teeth need to be repaired, dentists can choose from a variety of materials.  Dr. Bennett who is a holistic dentist will utilize a compatibility test if the patient requests.  A prominent compatibility testing service evaluates over 9000 dental materials.  The most common are:

  • silver amalgam for fillings (metal)
  • composite resins for fillings and veneers (non-metal)
  • gold for crowns or fillings  (metal alloys)
  • porcelain for crowns, fillings or veneers  (non-metal)
  • porcelain fused to metal for crowns and bridges  (metal cores, porcelain surface)
  • porcelain fused to zirconia for crowns and bridges  (non-metal)

Metals are the most problematic material. Many people have sensitivities or allergies to metals commonly used in dentistry. Studies show that very shortly after being placed in the mouth, those metals can be detected in the blood. So, it is very important to do compatibility testing prior to placing any of these materials in a patient’s mouth. 

In addition to sensitivity/allergy issues, holistic dentists have concerns about electrical effects in the mouth caused by using dissimilar metals. This creates a “battery effect” in the presence of an electrolytic fluid (saliva). This is called oral galvanism. Significant anecdotal evidence shows that oral galvanism may affect health, especially the function of the nervous system, in ways we don’t fully understand.  More research needs to be done to investigate this issue.

Most conventional dentists believe that it is safe to use any and all dental materials including “silver amalgam”(which is 52% mercury) to place fillings. Holistic dentists are concerned about the use of mercury in dental amalgams. Dr. Bennett is concerned.  An increasing body of evidence questions the safety of mercury in dental fillings, a topic that will be covered in another blog entry.

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