We use quality filling materials that have been reviewed and researched for the best clinical performance and bio-compatibility. In addition, over the years I had many of my patients receive biocompatibility testing for dental materials. I reviewed the data from these tests and have “weeded out” the dental materials that showed consistent reactivity with patients. Therefore, even if a patient does not have a bio-compatibility test performed, they can be more assured that the dental materials I use are more likely to be compatible with their body.
Here is one definition of biocompatibility:
"Biocompatibility has been defined as the state of mutual coexistence between the biomaterials and the physiological environment such that neither has an undesirable effect on the other. It is the ability of a material to perform with an appropriate host response in a specific application. This means that the tissues of the patient that comes into contact with the materials does not suffer from any toxic, irritating, inflammatory, allergic, mutagenic or carcinogenic action."
(Adya N, Alam M, Ravindranath T, Mubeen A, Saluja B. Corrosion in titanium dental implants: literature review. J Indian Prosthodont Soc [serial online] 2005 [cited 2008 Oct 30];5:126-31.
There are three types of biocompatibility that dentists should be aware of. These include general biocompatibility, immunologic biocompatibility and bio-energetic biocompatibility.
General biocompatibility: These materials are toxic or poisonous to cells in every person.
Bio-energetic biocompatibility: Some health care providers believe in meridians in the body. Meridians are pathways of energy flow in the body. There is no physically verifiable anatomical or histological basis for the existence of these pathways (This does not mean it does not exist. It means that at this point we cannot verify it by physical testing at this point). Nonetheless, according to health care practitioners who believe in this, certain energy incompatible dental materials can interfere with the healthy energy flow of these meridians and make someone less healthy.
Immunologic Biocompatability: This is the compatibility of a dental material on an immunological level. This type of biocompatibility deals with hypersensitivity reactions of the immune system. When I speak about biocompatibility I am focusing on general biocompatibility and immunologic biocompatibility. If a Charlotte NC area patient determines (through their own means of testing) that they are not bio-energetically compatible with materials that I routinely use, then I will not be able to treat them.
Many of our new patients want to know the ingredients of the dental materials that I use. Of course we will provide that information to them. However, it is very important to understand that the molecular makeup of the particular material do not determine the biocompatibility of the material. It is the chemical stability (see below) of the material in the oral environment that determines whether it is biocompatible or not.
The following is the concept of chemical stability that I am interested in as a dentist treating my patients:
In everyday language, and often in materials science, a chemical substance is said to be "stable" if it is not particularly reactive in the environment or during normal use, and retains its useful properties on the timescale of its expected usefulness. In particular, the usefulness is retained in the presence of air, moisture or heat, and under the expected conditions of application. In this meaning, the material is said to be unstable if it can corrode, decompose, polymerize, burn or explode under the conditions of anticipated use or normal environmental conditions.
The ideal dental material will not corrode or chemically decompose and has a long half life in the oral environment.