(NatualHealth365) Suggesting that the mouth could be a battery and that teeth can be electric probably sounds blatantly bizarre to just about anyone who has not studied “oral galvanism.” Yet, because of commonly used dental metals, the situation can and does occur far more often than you might imagine, and the health issues that can develop as a result range from oral lesions to autoimmune illnesses and even infertility.
First, defining “oral galvanism” makes it much easier to understand this complex-sounding dental phenomenon. “Galvanism” is defined as “a direct current of electricity especially when produced by chemical action.” So, basically, “oral galvanism” simply means electric currents produced by chemical action in the mouth.
The unhealthy truth about electric teeth
At this point, you might still be wondering how this highly-charged situation could occur in the mouth. Considering all of the available options for dental materials, the accessibility to metals to serve as the battery (anode and cathode) in the oral cavity is abundant. For example, a list of dental materials that serve as possibilities include gold, palladium, silver, cobalt, nickel, titanium, iron, and of course, mercury.
In other words, from dental fillings to braces to steel screw posts, it is clear that millions of us have “metal mouths.” What this means is that many dental patients have all the metals needed to produce chemical reactions in their mouths with saliva playing a role as the electrolyte. What this also means is that people can potentially become sick from this situation.
This video illustrates the potential danger of putting different metals in your mouth.
Warning: You could be creating rust in your mouth
It should not be surprising that the term “oral galvanism” is often used synonymously with the term “galvanic corrosion.” This is because a primary action of electrical currents in the mouth is to cause corrosion, similar to the rust that appears on batteries, cars, and other metallic objects.
A dangerous potential for increased metallic releases has been confirmed in the case of silver-colored fillings (often called amalgams), all of which contain about 50% mercury. In fact, during the corrosion process, these fillings are known to produce mercury vapor and particles, as well as free mercury droplets. Moreover, a new study from Swedish researchers establishes that the types of amalgam fillings currently being used in the U.S. and Europe emit more mercury than the ones that were used prior to the 1970s.
What does an electric mouth feel like and why should I care?
A wide-range of symptoms from oral galvanism have been reported in patients. Galvanic currents have been associated with sharp pains, and galvanic corrosion has been linked to metallic tastes in the mouth, allergy, and irritation.
Additionally, oral lesions, blackening of crevice surfaces, and all of the symptoms related to mercury poisoning have been linked to oral galvanism from amalgam fillings.
Also concerning is that dental metal allergies have been associated with oral galvanism, and these allergies have been related to symptoms ranging from oral lesions to autoimmune illnesses and even infertility. Although oral galvanism is obviously not the only potential cause of these health issues, researchers have shown that it could be a contributing risk factor for these health issues in certain patients.
From total shock to taking decisive action
While oral galvanism has been studied for nearly a century, the number of dental alloys used since the 1980’s has noticeably increased. This means that more and more chemical combinations are occurring in the mouths of patients; however, established dental and medical routines have not yet fully addressed this ongoing oral phenomenon.
The good news, though, is that at least some dentists have taken this information into consideration for their patients. “Biological dentists” like those at the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), typically utilize mercury-free and mercury-safe dentistry while also considering the impact of dental conditions, devices, and treatments on oral and systemic health, including the biocompatibility of dental materials and techniques.
Additionally, the IAOMT is working to educate patients and dentists about the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART), which provides for rigorous safety measures to mitigate mercury exposures during the removal of those metal-filled amalgam fillings.
Author the author: John Kall, DMD serves as the Chairman of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxiocology’s Board of Directors. He is a member of the American Dental Association, a fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), Past President of the KY Chapter of the AGD, a member of the Louisville Dental Society, and a member of the Kentucky Dental Association.