Dental toxicity can occur when materials placed in a patient’s mouth cause the immune system to react to and/or reject the restoration since the components are foreign to native tissue. Too often these materials are placed in a patient’s mouth with no investigation into potential long-term health issues because the dentists themselves are unaware of the hazards.
Reactivity to dental materials can be loosely compared to food allergies. While many people have no problems with foods such as peanuts, fish, or soybeans, there is a small percentage of the population who will have an allergic reaction to these foods. The reaction to the dental materials that we are testing for is similar to a food allergy test. Unlike the immediate reaction people have with a food allergy, the reaction to dental toxicity is much more subtle – in fact, most people don’t even notice that anything is happening. The immune system can react to dental materials as if they were infections and will begin to work overtime to remove the “infection” from the body. Unfortunately, it is impossible to eliminate the toxicity from the body as long as the toxic substance remains in the mouth.
There are currently several thousand dental restoration materials available on the market today and it’s important to understand how vigorously or minimally these materials will react with the body’s immune system. The best way to minimize the possibility of such problems is to test the body’s reactions in vitro (in alaboratory) via Serum Biocompatibility Testing.
Serum Compatibility Testing provides dentists the ability to determine whether or not a particular restorative material is toxic to a patient by first placing the material in a test tube with the patient’s serum protein in order to identify a potentially toxic reaction. Proper testing can help to prevent the placement of any of a number of materials in the mouth which could ultimately prove to be an ongoing source of toxicity to a patient.
While no ethical dentist would ever knowingly place a toxic material in a patient’s mouth, most are simply unaware of the dangers of the materials available to them. Very few dentists are ever taught that patients can have a reaction to dental work, and those who are educated often believe that only certain types of materials are reactive and that by avoiding them, they can avoid any such problems. The truth is that anybody can have an immune reaction to any material.