Biocompatibility of Dental Materials
The Relationship of Oral to Overall Health
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Effects of Dental Materials on Health
For some, the effects of dental materials on their health can be significant. Today we are exposed to thousands of potentially toxic substances that didn’t exist 50, or even 20, years ago and every year more are added to the list. The effects on health of man-made substances vary from person to person. Some may not be affected, while, for others, the same substance may be toxic and elicit a harmful reaction. The source of these substances range from what is put into the food we eat, to household chemicals, pesticides, toxic substances resulting from the manufacturing process, auto emissions, and products and materials used in medical and dental treatment.
This article will deal with dental materials used in dental treatment and is an important subject to consider for two reasons. The first is that over 200 million people have one or more kinds of dental materials in their mouths; meaning the biocompatibility of dental materials is important to a large number of people. And second, because there are so many dental materials to which you can be exposed.
The simplest definition of biocompatibility is the ability of a substance to exist within, or alongside, living things without harming them. The biocompatibility of a dental material refers to the ability of the material to provide the desired function without causing any undesirable local or systemic effects in the body. This means it will not cause any kind of allergic inflammatory response, or any other undesirable reaction in the individual.
2,000 Different Dental Materials
Today, there are over 2,000 different dental materials in use and no one material is 100% suited for everyone. Some people may be allergic to certain materials, and others may be sensitive to them to various degrees. Unlike a food, which can be readily removed from the diet if you find that you’re allergic to it, once a dental material is placed in or over a tooth, it’s there 24 hours a day, every day. This means that if a person is allergic to a dental material it would cause a reaction 24/7. This is especially significant if you have crowns or bridges, or any other dental filling material. This is because you’ll be exposed to more of any material placed on or in a tooth when compared to other types of dental materials, such as the cement that is placed underneath a crown.
Allergies to dental materials may not be a problem for a majority of people exposed to them. But if you happen to be allergic to any one of the different metals, compounds, chemicals, and products used in dentistry, these materials could present a serious health hazard. The amount of the allergic material is also important to consider. For example, if you were sensitive to mercury and you had a mouth full of amalgam fillings you would be exposed to much more of the mercury allergen than if you had one small filling.