Even as the world was still getting through the first full year of pandemic life, an amazing thing happened here in the US: The FDA released new guidelines against “silver” mercury amalgam fillings for particularly vulnerable groups of people:
- Children, especially those younger than 6.
- Pregnant and nursing mothers.
- Women planning on pregnancy.
- People with neurological problems, such as MS, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s.
- People with impaired kidney function.
- People with heightened sensitivity to mercury or other components of amalgam.
But avoiding mercury is only half the problem. There’s also the question of what to use instead. After all, you don’t want to end up just replacing one toxin with materials that the patient might be sensitive to. You want that replacement to be biocompatible.
The two main types of amalgam alternatives are composite resin (the stuff that makes tooth-colored fillings) and ceramic. The most common ceramic, zirconia, is broadly biocompatible, which is why it’s become such a great alternative not just for restoring teeth but also replacing lost teeth with dental implants. Likewise, there are some excellent composites available today that are well tolerated by most people.
But some have sensitivities or health problems that make them cautious about any exposure to materials that could make their condition worse.
For no two immune systems are exactly alike. What causes big problems for one person may be fine for someone else. Ultimately, we only want to use the materials that are the best fit for the individual’s biochemistry, the materials they are least likely to be reactive to. (There’s no such thing as a material that’s completely non-reactive. Any foreign material placed into the human body is going to trigger some kind of immune response, even if very, very mild.)
That’s why we offer serum biocompatibility testing in our office and strongly recommend it for people with health issues that may be related to conditions in their mouth. While some holistic and biological dentists may start with non-invasive methods such as muscle testing to evaluate materials, serum testing is the gold standard. It’s scientific, specific, and reliable.
The test is simple enough. You just provide a small sample of your blood which we then send to BioComp, a testing lab founded by one of the pioneers of mercury-free dentistry, Dr. Hal Huggins. As a researcher and toxicologist, Dr. Huggins committed to listing only materials from manufacturers who were fully forthcoming about all of the components that go into their products.
BioComp then provides us with a report that looks like this, grouping the products by which are least likely to cause problems, most likely to cause problems, or are somewhere in between.
BioComp currently includes over 8500 brand name dental materials in their database, including composites, cements, bonding materials, temporary materials, dentures, high and low noble crowns, and more. It is extremely comprehensive. We can even let them know if there are particular materials that we’re considering for your case so they can be sure to include them in your test results.
Biocompatibility testing is yet another way we ensure that the health of your mouth supports the health of your whole body.