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«Be VERY Careful When Replacing Missing Teeth By Dr. Lina Garcia A dental implant is one option for replacing missing or badly ...»

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Be VERY Careful When Replacing Missing Teeth

By Dr. Lina Garcia


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


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 inflammation.

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 implant.

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 implants.

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 metal implant.

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.


1. Chaturvedi TP. An overview of the corrosion aspect of dental implants (titanium and its alloys). Indian J Dent Res 2009; 20:91-8.

2. 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.

3. Huggins, H. It’s all in your head: the link between mercury amalgams and illness. 1993, Avery Publishing Group Inc., Garden City Park, New York.

4. 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).

5. McGuff HS, Jeim-Hall J, Holsinger FC, Jones AA, O’Dell DS, Hafemeister AC.

Maxillary osteosarcoma associated with a dental implant. JADA 2008;


6. Muller KE, Valentine-Thon E. Hypersensitivity to titanium: Clinical and laboratory evidence. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006; 27(Suppl1): 31–35.

7. 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.

8. Stejskal VD, Hudecek R, Stejskal J, Sterzl I. Diagnosis and treatment of metalinduced side-effects. Neuro Endocrinol Lett 2006; 27 (Suppl 1): 7–16.

9. Stejskal J, Stejskal VD. The role of metals in autoimmunity and the link to neuroendocrinology. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 1999; 20(6): 351–364.

10. Ziff S, Ziff MF. Dentistry without mercury. 1995 ed. Bio-Probe, Inc., Orlando, Florida.

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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 implants.

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, healthier choices.

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 deteriorated.

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.

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 of safety.

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.

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