As Our Blog Turns 15, We Look Back to Our First Post…on (What Else?) Biocompatibilty

by | May 22, 2024 | Dental Restorations | 0 comments

It’s hard to believe, but this year, our blog turned 15 years old! Over that time, our practice has grown a lot, from being St. Louis’ choice for biological dentistry to the premiere biological office serving patients from across the central Midwest and much of the Upper South.

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Mike was still in solo practice. Today, his son Michael is a dentist in the practice, as well, along with Dr. Ackeilia Heatrice, who helps our youngest patients develop healthy habits and healthy mouths.

In light of our blogiversary, we thought it would be fun to go back and take a look at the very first post we put up, written by Dr. Mike. Sure, some of it is dated. The news story that inspired the post is no longer news. Most of the crowns we make now are metal-free zirconia instead of gold or composite resin – a metal-free ceramic that is extremely strong, durable, and aesthetic. For more than 99% of the population, zirconia is biocompatible and does not provoke an immune reaction or inflammation.

Dr. Mike’s main point, however, is as relevant as ever: Biocompatibility matters.

What’s In Your Crown?

by Dr. Michael Rehme, DDS, NMD, CCN, FIAOMT

Originally published Feb 7, 2009

Lightly edited for clarity

In March 2008, an investigative television reporter filed an intriguing story that caught my eye due to the nature of its subject matter. The title of his report was “Chinese Dental Products May Hide Danger.”

dental crownsAn Ohio woman who was suffering from mouth pain had a newly installed crown examined. It was made in China and it turned out to have lead in it. Fecal bacteria was also found to be present in the metal alloy.

To begin with, lead has no place in dentistry. It is a toxin that has the ability to impede the development and function of every organ and system in the body. Even tiny amounts of lead can be dangerous to a person’s health. Lead’s effects on the body can be devastating and irreversible.

Unfortunately, economics can sometimes play a role in our decision making process. In an attempt to reduce costs, it’s not uncommon to find dental laboratories, and even dentists, outsourcing their crowns and bridgework to other countries including China.

Due to the record high costs of precious metals that we use in dentistry, i.e., gold, platinum, and silver, finding lower prices for materials and alternative sources for fabricating dental products is one alternative to US prices and labs. However, is it the right action to take?

What type of regulations and standards are being set by the dental profession to monitor the quality and safety of the dental materials used and fabrication procedures in other countries? I believe it is crucial to the integrity of our profession, and the dental laboratories in the US, to protect our patients from unregulated and unsanitary conditions that may infiltrate the United States by the use of inferior techniques and dental products from other countries.

In 2005, I made the decision to create our own dental laboratory. The purpose of this move was two-fold.

  • Quality Control. Having a laboratory on-site provides better control and communications between the dentist, patient, and laboratory technicians for each and every dental product that’s fabricated. Modifications in colors and shades, contours, and shapes of crowns and bridgework can be easily corrected when needed, while the patient is still in the dental chair. Our laboratory takes pride in providing a quality product for all our patients.
  • Selecting Laboratory Materials. Over the last 10 years, I’ve seen just how important it is to use biocompatible dental materials in our patients’ mouths. Although this may not be a major concern for most dentists and dental laboratories in this country at this time, as a biological dentist, I am absolutely convinced that careful choices in materials, especially the metal alloys, is crucial to a patient’s long term health and wellness.
  • In our laboratory, we use an alloy called Holistic gold. This product contains two precious metals: roughly 88% gold and 11% platinum. Trace amounts of iridium, indium, and rhodium are present in less than 1% and are evaporated during the firing process.

    I strongly believe these metals still provide the most biocompatible materials available for patients today. MRT (Materials Reactivity Testing for blood compatibility) results reveal this product to be 98 – 99% compatible with all patients that use this material. Although cheaper metal products can be used, thus lowering the cost of a dentist’s laboratory bills, substituting these precious metals for non-precious, heavy metal alloys such as nickel, palladium, aluminum, copper, and beryllium, is simply not acceptable in our office.

    Instead of porcelain, which is used for the tooth colored portion of crowns, we use Belleglass NG or Diamond Crown. Both of these materials are hard, durable, composite resins that offer excellent aesthetics for our patients. They are also considered to be highly compatible dental materials when placed in the oral cavity.

    An interesting note about the above mentioned TV broadcast is that after that story was aired, several patients called our office the next morning to inquire about the materials we used in their own crowns and bridge work. I think there was a sense of relief when we informed them of the precious metals used in their mouths.

    Sensitivity tests can also be ordered if you suspect that you have any allergies to specific metal alloys.

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