What does your earlobe have to do with your dental health? If you can embrace the tooth-body concept once again, then you certainly will be able to follow the message that I wish to share with you in this article.
Before I was introduced to biological dentistry (also called holistic dentistry), I never gave a second thought to the different metals that I used in my patients’ mouths. Whether it was gold or nickel or palladium or even mercury it really didn’t matter as long as the material was strong, non-corrosive, wear resistant and esthetically pleasing.
The revelation came to me sometime in the year 2000 when I was listening to a patient complain about a crown that was recently placed in her mouth. It wasn’t that the tooth hurt or that the bite was off, her objection was that the gum tissue around her new crown was inflamed and irritated.
She also noted that she had four other crowns in her mouth that showed no signs or symptoms of inflammation what-so-ever. So why was this crown causing her problems?
After doing some research on dental materials and receiving some helpful information from her previous dentist, it was determined that her new crown contained 76% nickel. And guess what? This patient had an allergy to nickel!
Her body was so sensitive to this metal that she eventually found out that rings, bracelets, necklaces and even earrings containing nickel would cause allergic reactions such as itchiness and rashes to occur at the sight of contact.
In our office, we now ask our patients if they have any known sensitivities or allergies to any metal products. We are also observant to any unexplained sensitivities that may occur after new dental materials are introduced into the oral cavity. If you ever notice any redness, inflammation, swelling or pain on your skin or gum tissue when you come in contact with certain substances, you may have what is known as “contact dermatitis.”
This inflammatory response is seen quite frequently with people who like to wear costume jewelry. If you have problems with a skin rash, redness, swelling, itching or burning in areas where you are wearing jewelry, you may have a nickel allergy.
Nickel is commonly used in most jewelry, since it’s cheap and strong. However around 15% of the population are allergic to nickel. If you’ve recently had your ears or body pierced and are experiencing allergic symptoms, you may have become sensitized to the metal your jewelry contains.
Whether it’s right or wrong, conventional dentistry uses a lot of nickel based products in their dental materials. Historically they’ve used nickel because of its strength, non-corrosive characteristics and it’s cheaper to use than gold. Sensitivity to nickel in the oral cavity not only can cause a local response of redness, inflammation and swelling but systemically this metal is a known carcinogenic and a depressant.
The analogy that I use, From the Earlobe to the Mouth simply suggests that if you can’t wear costume jewelry (nickel) on your earlobe than why put it in your mouth? If you give me a handful of your earrings to which you are sensitive and we melt them all down and make a crown out of the same material, wouldn’t you also be sensitive to it in your mouth? It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Could you be one of the 15% that are sensitive to nickel? Why take a chance? Be proactive and take charge of your health. To find out if you have an allergy to nickel or any other metals, metal sensitivity tests can provide this information for you (ELISA/ACT Biotechnologies). Also, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist what type of materials are being used in your crowns, bridges and even removable metal cast partials.
You have a right to know. It will also give you peace of mind knowing you’re trying to protect yourself from any potential hazards that may compromise your optimal health and well-being.