“Be VERY Careful When Replacing Missing Teeth”
A dental implant is one option for replacing
missing or badly diseased teeth. It is composed of an artificial root
that looks like a post or screw and is covered with a dental crown.
Treatment involves the surgical placement
of the implant into the jawbone, where it is allowed to fuse to the
bone in a process called “osseointegration.”
Once healed, the implant acts as an anchor
for an artificial replacement tooth, or crown. The crown is made to
blend in with your other teeth and is permanently attached to the implant.
A typical dental implant is made of pure
titanium and/or a titanium alloy.
In fact, titanium alloys are widely used
in both medicine and dentistry, for dental implants, pacemakers, stents,
orthodontal brackets, and orthopedic implants (e.g., hip, shoulder,
knee, or elbow). Not only is titanium strong, but many consider it biocompatible:
it forms an oxide layer when exposed to air, and this purportedly results
in reduced corrosion and superior osseointegration.
So why should you reject the standard
titanium metal implant?
Titanium is NOT Biologically Inert
Titanium implants release metal ions
into your mouth 24 hours a day, and this chronic exposure may trigger
inflammation, allergies, and autoimmune disease in susceptible individuals.
They are a precursor to disease.
Cases of intolerance to metal implants
have been reported over the years, and the removal of this incompatible
dental material has resulted in reduced metal sensitivity and long-term
health improvement in the majority of patients.
Titanium has the potential to induce
hypersensitivity as well as other immunological dysfunctions.
One study investigated 56 patients who
developed severe health problems after receiving titanium-based dental
implants. These medical problems included muscle, joint, and nerve pain;
chronic fatigue syndrome; neurological problems; depression; and skin
Removal of the implants resulted in a
dramatic improvement in the patients’ symptoms, as well as a decrease
in many patients’ sensitivity to titanium.
For example, a 54-year-old man with a
titanium dental implant and four titanium screws in his vertebra was
so sick that he could not work. He suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome,
cognitive impairment, Parkinson-like trembling, and severe depression.
Six months after the removal of the implants and screws, he was able
to return to work.
In another case, a 14-year-old girl developed
inflammatory lesions on her face six months after being fitted with
titanium orthodontal brackets.
She was also mentally and physically
exhausted, and her reactivity to titanium skyrocketed. Within nine months
of replacing the brackets with a metal-free material, her facial lesions
had almost completely healed, she was healthy and active, and her sensitivity
to titanium returned to a normal level.
Titanium Implants Can Cause Cancer
Another complication of the use of implanted
titanium is its potential to induce the abnormal proliferation of cells
(neoplasia), which can lead to the development of malignant tumors and
cancer. Through rare, it is a well-known complication of orthopedic
surgery that involves the implantation of metallic hardware.
Furthermore, researchers recently uncovered
the first reported case of a sarcoma arising in association with a dental
As described in the August 2008 issue
of JADA (The Journal of the American Dental Association), a 38-year-old
woman developed bone cancer eleven months after receiving a titanium
dental implant. Luckily, she was successfully treated with chemotherapy,
but the authors recommended further research into the tumor-causing
potential of dental implants in light of their increasing popularity
and their ability to last for longer periods of time.
Why You Want to Avoid ANY Kind of Metal
in Your Mouth
Finally, the presence of any metal in
your mouth sets the stage for “galvanic toxicity,” because
your mouth essentially becomes a charged battery when dissimilar metals
sit in a bed of saliva.
All that is needed to make a battery
is two or more different metals and a liquid medium that can conduct
electricity (i.e., an electrolyte). Metal implants, fillings, crowns,
partials, and orthodontics provide the dissimilar metals, and the saliva
in your mouth serves as the electrolyte.
An electric current called a galvanic
current is then generated by the transport of the metal ions from the
metal-based dental restorations into the saliva. This phenomenon is
called “oral galvanism,” and it literally means that your
mouth is acting like a small car battery or a miniature electrical generator.
The currents can actually be measured using an ammeter!
Oral galvanism creates two major concerns.
First, the electric currents increase
the rate of corrosion (or dissolution) of metal-based dental restorations.
Even precious metal alloys continuously release metal ions into your
mouth due to corrosion, a process that gnaws away bits of metal from
the metal’s surface.
These ions react with other components
of your body, leading to sensitivity, inflammation, and, ultimately,
autoimmune disease. Increasing the corrosion rate, therefore, increases
the chance of developing immunologic or toxic reactions to the metals.
Second, some individuals are very susceptible
to these internal electrical currents. Dissimilar metals in your mouth
can cause unexplained pain, nerve shocks, ulcerations, and inflammation,
and many people also experience a constant metallic or salty taste,
or a burning sensation in their mouth.
Moreover, there is the concern that oral
galvanism directs electrical currents into brain tissue and can disrupt
the natural electrical current in your brain.
New Alternatives to Titanium Implants
In recent years, high-strength ceramic
implants have become attractive alternatives to titanium implants, and
some current research has focused on the viability of materials such
as zirconia (the dioxide of zirconium, a metal close to titanium on
the periodic table).
Metal-free zirconia implants have been
used in Europe and South America for years, but they have only recently
become available in the U.S.
Zirconia implants are highly biocompatible
to the human body and exhibit minimum ion release compared to metallic
Studies have shown that the osseointegration
of zirconia and titanium implants are very similar, and that zirconia
implants have a comparable survival rate, thereby making them an excellent
alternative to metal implants.
Moreover, zirconia ceramics have been
successfully used in orthopedic surgery to manufacture ball heads for
total hip replacements.
Therefore, given that titanium dental
implants can induce metal sensitivity, inflammation, autoimmunity, and
malignant tumors, while zirconia implants are metal-free but just as
durable, why invite chronic metal exposure?
Your body would surely benefit from choosing
the biocompatible, ceramic dental implant over the standard, titanium
Dr. Lina Garcia, a committed holistic
dentist for 25 years, has dedicated her practice to using dental materials
that will support your health and not disease. In her practice, she
offers only metal-free restorative materials, including zirconia implants.
Chaturvedi TP. An overview of the corrosion
aspect of dental implants (titanium and its alloys). Indian J Dent Res
Depprich R, Zipprich H, Ommerborn M, Mahn E, Lammers L, Handschel J,
Naujoks C, Wiesmann H, Kubler NR, Meyer U. Osseointegration of zirconia
implants: an SEM observation of the bone-implant interface. Head &
Face Medicine 2008, 4:25.
Huggins, H. It’s all in your head: the link between mercury amalgams
and illness. 1993, Avery Publishing Group Inc., Garden City Park, New
Lambrich M, Iglhaut. Vergleich der Überlebensrate von Zirkondioxid-
und Titanimplantaten. (“Comparison of the survival rates for zirconia
and titanium implants.”) Zeitschrift für Zahnärztliche
Implantologie (Journal of Dental Implantology) 2008; 24(3).
McGuff HS, Jeim-Hall J, Holsinger FC, Jones AA, O’Dell DS, Hafemeister
AC. Maxillary osteosarcoma associated with a dental implant. JADA 2008;
Muller KE, Valentine-Thon E. Hypersensitivity to titanium: Clinical
and laboratory evidence. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006; 27(Suppl1): 31–35.
Muris J, Feilzer AJ. Micro analysis of metals in dental restorations
as part of a diagnostic approach in metal allergies. Neuro Endocrinol
Lett. 2006; 27(Suppl 1): 49–52.
Stejskal VD, Hudecek R, Stejskal J, Sterzl I. Diagnosis and treatment
of metal-induced side-effects. Neuro Endocrinol Lett 2006; 27 (Suppl
Stejskal J, Stejskal VD. The role of metals in autoimmunity and the
link to neuroendocrinology. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 1999; 20(6): 351–364.
Ziff S, Ziff MF. Dentistry without mercury. 1995 ed. Bio-Probe, Inc.,
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
First, I’d like to thank Dr. Garcia for this excellent review
of the problems with metal dental implants, and the emergence of zirconium,
which appears to be a far healthier alternative to traditional metal
It goes without saying that your aim
should be to avoid getting to the point where an implant is necessary,
but if the damage is already done, or if you have an acute oral trauma,
you now at least have some information that can help you make safer,
The impact your oral health has on the
rest of your body is often overlooked, but that does not make it any
less important. Likewise, any work you have done to your teeth can have
a serious impact on your health, which I’ll go over shortly.
Having a healthy set of teeth is a powerful
predictor of your overall health. In my experience, sick patients who
display near cavity-free teeth tend to get well fairly quickly. If,
on the other hand, their mouths are full of fillings and root canals,
the prognosis is not nearly as good.
The Link Between Oral Health and Disease
In the 1900s, Dr. Weston A. Price did
extensive research on the link between oral health and physical diseases.
He was one of the major nutritional pioneers of all time, and his research
is just as relevant today as it was back then.
He discovered that native tribes that
still ate their traditional diet had nearly perfect teeth and were almost
100 percent free of tooth decay. Certain diseases were also nearly unheard
of, such as chronic diseases of the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, joints,
and skin – the types of diseases currently plaguing our society.
Once these tribal populations were introduced
to sugar and white flour, their health, and their perfect teeth, rapidly
His classic book Nutrition and Physical
Degeneration details his fascinating findings and is well worth reading.
There’s no doubt that our modern
diet has changed the inherent health of our teeth and our bodies, and
is the cause of nearly all our modern health challenges.
Today it’s quite rare to find an
adult with teeth that has not been marred by dental work of some kind,
from mercury amalgams (silver fillings) to crowns, to root canals and
bridges and implants.
If you eat properly and maintain optimal
health, you’re highly unlikely to develop cavities. They really
only occur when you're eating the wrong foods, and growing up, I did
not eat the right foods. As a result, I, as so many others, had a mouth
full of mercury fillings.
For an excellent illustration of what
these fillings do once in your mouth, take a look at this video.
I eventually had them replaced with gold
fillings, only to later realize that gold fillings and crowns cause
problems too. So after I’d already made an investment of several
thousand dollars, I decided to replace them all again. This time with
non-metal crowns, for the most part.
Conventional Versus Biological Dentistry
Unfortunately, conventional dentistry
has generally only evaluated materials to be used for their mechanical
characteristics, in large part ignoring the impact that particular material
might have on the rest of your body.
Case in point: silver fillings, which
are 50 percent mercury, an extremely potent neurotoxin, have been used
for over 150 years. Likewise, the fact that various metals have been
used for years to fashion tooth implants is by no means an indication
We are currently fighting to have mercury
fillings banned completely in the U.S., as it has been in some other
European countries, and hope to be able to get this toxic material off
the market in the near future. Until then, it’s up to you to refuse
them, or find a dentist who has switched to safer alternatives.
My own struggles with my teeth led me
to learn about in the mid 1990s and embrace biological dentistry, also
known as holistic or environmental dentistry.
In a nutshell, biological dentistry views
your teeth and gums as an integrated part of your entire body, and any
medical treatments performed takes this fact into account. The primary
aim of this type of holistic dentistry is to resolve your dental problems
while impacting the rest of your body as little as possible.
Unknowingly, your health can be significantly
impacted by the treatments received at your conventional dentist’s
office. Oftentimes the impact is just not immediately noticeable.
Implants Can Exacerbate Autoimmune Diseases
Currently, implants continue to be done
without biocompatibility testing, and they are often used in extraction
sites where cavitations (inflammation) are already developing.
Autoimmune diseases seem to be often
aggravated or even initiated by metal implants.
Additionally, an event called oral galvanism
occurs when you place two dissimilar metals in your mouth. You essentially
create a battery that will serve to drive the ions of the metals out
of the metal into your mouth and also generate electricity.
You may not realize it, but tiny electrical
currents are foundational to the way your body operates biologically,
and when you introduce a foreign source of electricity, especially one
that is constantly there, you can introduce imbalances that can contribute
to health problems.
This galvanic toxicity created when the
metal in your mouth reacts with your saliva can over-stimulate your
brain. This is true whether the metal in your mouth is a silver filling,
a metal crown, or a metal dental implant.
Common signs and symptoms of galvanic
A metal taste in your mouth
A sensation of an electric charge when using metal utensils
Finding suitable materials to replace the metals currently used is proving
to be a challenge. However, based on Dr. Garcia’s review of zirconium,
you may now have access to a far better option if you need to have an
entire tooth replaced.
Hopefully, by implementing the strategies
below, it will never get to that point.
Health Implications of Cavities and Root
Dental caries (cavities) is a reflection
of systemic illness in your body. And, if you let it go long enough
to where the cavity gets into the nerve and blood vessels, bacteria
can hide in the tiny tubules of the dentin, causing chronic inflammation
and infection that is near impossible to eradicate. So, never ignore
signs like a toothache or a cavity.
Also remember that they are major clues
that your body is not optimally healthy and lifestyle changes are in
order if you want to stop or reverse the damage that is already taking
As for root canals, nearly all contain
colonies of bacteria that can cause major illnesses in your body. Even
antibiotics won’t help in these cases, because the bacteria are
protected inside of your dead tooth. And when these bacteria migrate,
via your bloodstream to other areas of your body, they can contribute
to or cause more serious ailments such as:
Heart and circulatory diseases
Arthritis and rheumatism
Brain and nervous system diseases
Attending to your dental health is just as important as eating right
and exercising for physical health. The two are connected, not separate
systems, and each affects the other.
Do You Know What Makes for Healthy Teeth?
Although many would like to believe that
regular brushing and flossing is all that’s needed for healthy
teeth, it’s by no means the most important factor determining
your oral health. Others insist fluoride is the key. Don’t believe
it! The most important aspect is actually your diet, sans fluoridated
Hygiene practices are simply preventive
aids that help minimize the destructive effect of a modern, refined
diet, and fluoride causes far more health problems than it’s believed
Another alternative to conventional dental
fillings worth mentioning is tooth regeneration. The materials used
for this procedure include solutions of chemicals that can actually
rebuild decayed teeth. Enamel and dentin, the natural materials that
make teeth the strongest pieces of your body, may some day replace conventional
Although this would certainly be a step
up from using toxic substances like mercury to fill your teeth, it’s
still a type of band aid.
If you want to have healthy teeth, and
a similarly healthy body, you must start from the inside out, and that
means cleaning up your diet.
Healthy Diet, Healthy Teeth
When Dr. Price studied native diets,
he noticed certain similarities in the foods that were keeping them
so healthy. Among them:
The foods were natural, unprocessed,
and organic (and contained no sugar except for the occasional bit of
honey or maple syrup).
The people ate foods that grew in their native environment. In other
words, they ate locally grown, seasonal foods.
Many of the cultures ate unpasteurized dairy products, and all of them
ate fermented foods.
The people ate a significant portion of their food raw.
All of the cultures ate animal products, including animal fat and, often,
full-fat butter and organ meats.
When Dr. Price analyzed his findings, he found that the native diets
contained 10 times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins, and at least
four times the amount of calcium, other minerals, and water-soluble
vitamins as that of Western diets at that time. Their diets were also
rich in enzymes because they ate fermented and raw foods (enzymes help
you to digest cooked foods).
The native diets also had at least 10
times more omega-3 fat than modern diets and FAR less omega-6 fats.
And as some of you may know, a diet that is lacking in omega-3 fats,
and heavy on omega-6 fats from vegetable oils (which are consumed so
heavily today) is a recipe for disaster.
So, if you want to eat your way to healthy
teeth, taking a lesson from these previous native generations is essential.
Find out your nutritional type, and eat
accordingly. This will tell you which foods are ideal for your unique
Eat at least one-third of your food raw.
Avoid processed foods, sugar, refined flour and all artificial flavorings,
colorings, and artificial sweeteners. Instead, seek out locally grown
foods that are in-season.
Enjoy fermented foods like natto, kefir and cultured veggies.
Make sure you eat enough healthy fats, including those from animal sources
like omega-3 fat, and reduce your intake of omega-6 from vegetable oils.
All of the brushing and flossing in the world will not give you the
healthy teeth that the above steps will, so if you value your pearly
whites, get started eating a healthier diet today.
Find a Good Biological Dentist
Everyone needs a good dental consultant
and, unfortunately, they are hard to find. There is no shortage of competent
skilled caring dentists, but there is of ones who believe in the principles
I outlined above.
There are several strategies you can
use to locate one. Ideally you would ask a friend, relative or neighbor
who knows of one. If that fails you can contact several good natural
health food stores in your area and ask a number of the employees or
even the owner. Once you obtain the same name a number of times that
is typically a good sign.
Additionally there are organizations
like D.A.M.S and International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology
that have referral setups.
Dr. Lina Garcia