The battery in the mouth

Did you know we can generate electric currents with our metal crowns and fillings?!

 

The Battery in the Mouth

Have you ever felt a “shock” or a “metallic taste” caused by a piece of aluminum foil or a metal spoon that touched a silver-mercury filling or a gold inlay in your mouth? That is an electric current (Oral Galvanism); it happens when different metals are exchanging ions through a liquid, just like a battery. The same current can also exist through the teeth, the nerve inside or through the body. This can’t be good right?! Well, research shows that it can lead to cellular changes similar to cancer…

The galvanic current is a term that has been used in dentistry since 1933. Researchers expressed their concern about Oral galvanism, which occurs when two or more different metals (silver/copper amalgam fillings, metallic or metal-ceramic crowns, gold inlays-onlays) coexist in the mouth. Saliva acts as a conductive medium and the different electric potentials of metals generate an exchange of ions. This is exactly how also a battery works – try touching the terminals of a 9V battery with your tongue …

Latest studies show that the electric exchange of ions between different metals in the mouth could pose a serious health risk.

In 2012, the team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Niedermeier from Köln Dental School determined the “oral galvanism induces subcellular changes similar to the oral squamous cell carcinoma cells in vivo”.1.

There are two types of dental galvanism:

  • Between restorative materials or metal instruments placed in the mouth: an amalgam (silver & copper & mercury) filling placed in opposition or next to a tooth with another metallic restoration, in the presence of saliva, constitutes an electric cell. Since the two dissimilar metals are close to each other, the flow of electrical current is established through saliva and a metallic taste can be felt.
  • Between metal dental restorations and other metals touching the body or the mouth: if different metals come in indirect contact, the electric circuit can close through the pulp (tooth nerve) and the person experiences discomfort and tooth sensitivity.

In the past, metals have been used in dentistry due to lack of good ceramic or composite alternatives. Nowadays, we have quite a large selection of durable, tooth-colored ceramics, porcelain nano-filled composites and sophisticated bonding systems. All-ceramic restorations and composite materials are also posing electric insulating properties and are much more biocompatible than any metal restorations.

Nowadays, There Is No Reason Anymore to Use Metals in Dentistry!

In regards to “silver fillings”, Norway, Denmark and Sweden have banned the use of dental amalgam (silver & mercury based fillings) in dentistry due to their mercury toxicity and negative impact to the environment.

Costin Marinescu
Dr.-medic stom., D.D.S. (USA)

 


  1. Induction of apoptosis and up-regulation of cellular proliferation in oral leukoplakia cell lines inside electric field.
    Ahmed Korraah, BDS, MS, Margarete Odenthal, PD Dr., Marion Kopp, Dipl-Biol, Nadarajah Vigneswaran, DMD, DDS, Peter G. Sacks, PhD, Hans Peter Dienes, Prof. Dr. Med., Hartmut Stützer, Dr Med Dipl–Math, Wilhelm Niedermeier, Prof. Dr. Med. Dent.
    Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology, Volume 113, Issue 5, May 2012, Pages 644–654