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Five Common Dental Procedures that Could Impact Your Health

Some of the most common dental procedures that occur during routine dental visits can actually be harmful to your health. Here’s a shortlist of some of the most common dental procedures and materials and how they can impact your whole-body health:

  1. Root canal treatments
  2. Dental Implants
  3. Metal braces
  4. Porcelain fused to metal crowns
  5. Mercury dental amalgam AKA “Silver Fillings”

 

Root Canal Treatments

Many people sit in the dental chair and are told, “You need a root canal.” According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), about 25 million root canals are performed each year. Root canal treatments are not new, in fact, Dr. Weston A. Price who founded the National Dental Association researched the dangers of root canal treatments for 25 years as a continuation of the “Focal Infection Theory”. His monumental work on the subject is still as relevant today as it was almost 100 years ago.

He researched the relationship between root-canal teeth and degenerative disease using thousands of rabbits for his studies. He implanted the root-canal tooth from a patient into the animal, and found that the rabbit developed the same disease, of whatever disease the patient had. He found that root canal teeth were always infected regardless if they were symptomatic or asymptomatic.

Dr. Price stated, “Root fillings rarely fill pulp canals sufficiently perfectly to shut out bacteria, completely or permanently. Root fillings usually fill the pulp canal much less perfectly sometime after the operation, due to the contraction of the root-filling material. The ultimate volume contraction of the root filling is approximately the amount of solvent used where a solvent is used with gutta-percha as a root-filling material. Infection is a relative matter, and quantity and danger are both related to defense, which defense may vary from high to exceedingly low.”

Decades later, Dr. Hal Huggins looked at the DNA of crushed root tips and found and identified 83 different anaerobic bacterial species of which root canals contained 53 different species out of the 8 samples. Dr. Huggins noted that some are more dangerous than others, and some occur frequently, and some occasionally. He concluded, “Dentists claim they can “sterilize” the tooth before forcing the gutta-percha wax down into the canal. Perhaps they can sterilize a column of air in the center of the tooth, but is that really where the problem is? Bacteria wandering out of the dentinal tubules is what Price was finding, and what we were finding in the crushed tooth samples.”

“We tested blood samples adjacent to the removed teeth and analyzed them for the presence of anaerobic bacteria. Approximately 400% more bacteria were found in the blood surrounding the root canal tooth than were in the tooth itself. It seems that the tooth is the incubator. The periodontal ligament supplies more food, therefore a higher concentration of bacteria. “

Some of the diseases and/or conditions linked to root canal treatments are inflammatory dental infections such as apical periodontitis, coronary heart diseases, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and local pathologies caused by root-canaled treated teeth that may increase immunological and systemic dysfunction.

The most stunning information from the AAE as stated in 2017 was, “The search for an ideal material and/or technique to completely clean infected root canals continues.” In other words, there is nothing that can clean an infected root canal tooth, just as Dr. Price and later Dr. Huggins had said. This should shock anyone who is being told that they need a root canal!

Dental Implants

The latest and supposedly greatest treatment in dentistry is dental implants which are expected to increase in use by 23% between 2020 to 2026. The US dental implant market is estimated to be between $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion annually. Like mercury dental fillings or any dental material for that matter, dental implant materials will break down and can be toxic to the patient. The most common dental implants are titanium-based that also contain aluminum and vanadium, which are cytotoxic…meaning toxic to cells.  The newest dental implant material is zirconia, which was supposed to be the solution to titanium, another toxic metal in the body, however, studies show that both can produce nanoparticles when they break down in the mouth and these nanoparticles can then re-locate to other organs in the body.

It is interesting to note that there are studies that show high survival rates of the implants, but is that the whole story? As a biological dentist, I am most interested in the effects of implants on the rest of the body. Especially when it is estimated that 80% of patients with titanium dental implants develop mucositis (inflammation of the soft tissue around the implant), and up to 47% establish peri-implantitis at some point (infection). This should set off alarm bells because 80% is an extraordinarily high percentage and 47% is another high number that should be cause for alarm! Both of these symptoms can become a serious problem. Peri-implant mucositis resembles gingivitis in some aspects, and shows symptoms such as swelling, redness, and bleeding on probing. Peri-implantitis along with the symptoms of inflammation also includes peri-implant bone loss. The microbiota in peri-implant infections was found to be identical to those in advanced periodontitis. These bacteria have been found in cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory tract infections, Lemierre’s syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Exposure to titanium implants has been linked to hypersensitivity to titanium, allergic reactions, and yellow nail syndrome. Rodent studies have found an accumulation of titanium nanoparticles in the liver, kidney, spleen, heart, and lung. While exposure to zirconia implants in other rodent studies has also found zirconia nanoparticles in the spleen, kidney, heart, brain, lung, and liver.

Implant failure is also a problem and that can be caused by leakage at the abutment causing bacteria to manifest creating bone loss and ultimately failure. Currently, there is NO implant system or connection design that has been able to provide a perfect seal at the implant-abutment connection. This information coming from the industry is completely hidden from the consumer.

One of the most significant problems with dental implants that have just been revealed is that they can actually cause other teeth in the mouth to crack. This can lead to even more costs, dental problems, and ultimately more dental procedures.

Metal Orthodontic Braces

There is a new trend in Southeast Asia that could be heading our way and that is the use of “fake braces”. These fake novel braces can be bought online, are cheaper, and can be placed at home or in a salon. The problem is that these braces have leachable metal ions and pose a health risk because the composition of the materials is unknown.

If you think that the orthodontic braces from your local dental office are safe and non-toxic, that would be incorrect because these braces are also using metal alloys such as nickel and chromium which have been identified as cytotoxic, mutagenic, and allergenic. While some studies say that the release of metals is below the safe levels, they can bioaccumulate throughout the body and over time can cause health problems.

Here are just a few potential health problems that have been linked to exposure to nickel; contact dermatitis, cardiovascular disease, asthma, lung fibrosis, reproductive toxicity, and respiratory tract cancer, a safer alternative would be Invisalign which has shown to have no sign of cytotoxicity in human gingival fibroblasts. You must go to a dentist that has been trained in orthodontics, specifically.

Porcelain Fused to Metal Crowns

This is a case where you are probably not going to get what you paid for, because the mixture of metals to create these crowns may not be what you think, nor what is on the packaging. A recent study out of Norway investigated 62 porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns: 41 produced in Norway and 21 imported. They did this study because traditional alloys were gold-based noble alloys and most research on the survival rate was based on the gold-based alloys.

Due to the cost increase of the materials, alternative alloys have been created, but the importation of these crowns has also increased. Based on this study, they have stated that “it is impossible for a dentist to verify the actual alloy of the prosthetic materials”. What is even more disturbing is that the research on these materials is seriously lacking.

The researchers went into this study thinking that there would be no difference between the composition of the Norway-made or imported crowns. What they found was truly shocking! In the imported crowns, they found large deviations in materials compared to the Norway crowns. However, the Norway crowns had a higher occurrence of small deviations and unspecified alloys. This presents the problem of allergic reactions and the toxicity of materials to the patient. Even though this study was done in Norway, they expected similar results in other countries.

Some of the metals that were found in the crowns were aluminum, silver, and palladium, these are known to cause allergic reactions. Aluminum nanoparticles may induce hepatotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, neurotoxicity, oxidative stress, genotoxicity, inflammatory response, and apoptotic effects. Silver nanoparticles have been shown to be toxic to the cells of the skin, brain, liver, lung, and reproductive and vascular systems of mammals. Palladium has been linked with stomatitis, eczema, and oral lichenoid reactions. Palladium allergies have occurred in patients who are also allergic to nickel, and other common dental materials.

We have only scratched the surface when it comes to the problems presented by porcelain fused to metal crowns. Knowing that all of each of the meridians run through one or more of our 32 teeth, helps you to understand that there is a whole myriad of effects associated with the electromagnetic field created by these types of crowns. That problem would be a discussion reserved for another day.

Mercury dental amalgam AKA “Silver Fillings”

 Those of you who say, “I didn’t think dentists don’t use mercury fillings anymore”, would be wrong in that assumption. In fact, over half of the United States population over the age of 15 years old has about 5 mercury dental amalgam fillings. They are often called “Silver Fillings” due to the color, not the content, and are about 50% mercury, along with the other variations of the remaining 50% being tin, silver, zinc, and copper. Even though there is an international treaty called the Minamata Convention on Mercury Treaty, to ban all products and processes that use mercury…when it comes to mercury dental amalgam –it is on a “phase down approach”!

This is outrageous since other mercury-containing products such as blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, light bulbs, etc. have been banned. What should really be the biggest question is “Why is mercury dental amalgam, the only product used in the human body in the treaty, the only product on a phase-down approach and not a ban?”

A recent study was published using the information on the number of people in the United States who have mercury dental amalgam fillings using the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) database, which is a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children throughout the US that include in-depth interviews, physical examinations, all demographics, socioeconomic groups, dietary intake, and health questions.

The NHANES database has become the GOLD STANDARD in tracking health in the US population…Several papers have been published using the NHANES database that has linked mercury dental amalgam and the diseases asthma, and arthritis. Other diseases have been also linked to exposure to mercury dental amalgam. Alzheimer’s disease has been definitively linked to mercury dental amalgam exposure! We expect many more studies to follow now that researchers can access the NHANES database, and the number of mercury dental fillings linked to yet more diseases.

Questions that need to be asked are:

 (1) How can a global treaty based on banning processes and products that use mercury – not ban the only product used in the human body…Vaccines that contain mercury did NOT make it into the treaty, that is another story in and of itself!

(2) Why are dentists still using these toxic fillings, when other non-mercury fillings are available? Especially since the World Health Organization assisted in the development of non-mercury alternative filling material over 30 years ago!

(3) Why are medical doctors not checking the patient’s mouths to see what the condition of their oral health is? And why are dentists not making the connection between the patient’s mouth and their whole-body health when clearly there are thousands of scientific studies that have been published on this link?

These are some of the other diseases/conditions that have been linked to mercury dental amalgam, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Central Nervous System, Immune, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s Disease.

The most important part of this story is what truly is in your own mouth and how all of these materials interact with each other? What we do know is that all dental materials break down, and we also know that mixed metals will break down even faster and can be toxic to the whole body.

While you may not know exactly what is in your mouth, you can find out what metals you may have in your mouth and have them removed by a biological/holistic dentist. But before you do any dental work, one of the key things you can do to protect yourself is a biocompatibility test, to make sure whatever dental work you may need, the material that you have placed will be the least reactive for you, because when it comes to dental materials, there is no one size fits all! So, “Don’t guess, get the test”.

References:

  1. American Association of Endodontics https://www.aae.org/specialty/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/07/rootcanalirrigantsdisinfectants.pdf
  2. Kim KT et al. General review of titanium toxicity. International Journal of Implant Dentistry (2019)
  3. Lauritano D. et al. The Impact of Implant–Abutment Connection on Clinical Outcomes and Microbial Colonization: A Narrative Review. (2020) Materials
  4. Rosen E, et al. Dental implant placement is a possible risk factor for the development of multiple cracks in non-endodontically treated teeth. Sci Rep 10, 8527 (2020)
  5. Haleem R, et al. Metal ions leachables from fake orthodontic braces incubated in simulated body fluid. BMC Oral Health 21;507 (2021)
  6. Genchi G, et al. Nickel: Human Health and Environmental Toxicology. Int J Environ Res Public Health. (2020) Feb; 17(3): 679.
  7. Halimi A, et al. A systematic study of the release of bisphenol A by orthodontic materials and its biological effects. International Orthodontics (2016) ; 14 : 399-417
  8. Haugen HJ, et al. Discrepancy in alloy composition of imported and non-imported porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns produced by Norwegian dental laboratories. Biomaterial Investigations in Dentistry (2020) Vol. 7; issue 1
  9. Elkhadrawey B, et al. Potential Toxic Effects of Aluminum Nanoparticles: An overview. Journal of Current Veterinary Research. (2021) Vol.3; Issue 2: 94-106
  10. Egbuna C, et al. Toxicity of Nanoparticles in Biomedical Application: Nanotoxicology. J Toxicol. (2021) 2021:9954443. Published 2021 Jul 30. doi:10.1155/2021/9954443
  11. Tibau, AV and Grube BD. “Mercury Contamination from Dental Amalgam.” Journal of health & pollution 9 22 (2019): 190612.
  12. Estrich CG et al. Dental amalgam restorations in nationally representative sample of US population aged ≥15 years: NHANES 2011-2016. J Public Health Dent. (2021) 81(4):327-330
  13. Bjorklund G. et al. Mercury-induced autoimmunity: Drifting from micro to macro concerns on autoimmune disorders. Clinical Immunology (2020) Vol.213:108352

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