Metal alloys in the oral cavity as a cause of oral discomfort in sensitive patients.

OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY: The occurrence of galvanism with its heterogeneous symptomatology is often the source of considerable problems. Abrasion and corrosion not only damage dental alloys but also burden the organism by release of metallic particles. The objective of this study is to evaluate the hypothesis that measurement of galvanic currents could be a useful diagnostic method. PATIENT GROUPS AND METHODOLOGY: Three hundred fifty-seven persons with dental metal restorations were divided into groups according to abnormal values of galvanic currents and by oral discomfort. In all persons a detailed examination of the oral cavity was performed, and galvanic currents were measured. In one hundred fifty-nine patients abnormal galvanic currents were found. Measurement of metallic elements in saliva was performed in these patients and in a group of 21 healthy volunteers without any metals in the oral cavity. Thirty-three patients agreed to treatment which involved removal of the causative alloys and their replacement by non-metallic restorations.

RESULTS: No correlation was found between the values of measured currents and the number of teeth treated by metal restorations. However, patients with metal restorations had significantly higher contents not only of mercury, but also of tin, silver, copper, and gold in the saliva than patients without metallic restorations. After removal of the electro-active restorations, both the contents of metals in saliva and galvanic currents decreased in comparison with the levels before the treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Galvanic effects as well as metal particles may induce a series of local or systemic pathological phenomena in sensitive individuals. The occurrence of pathologically acting galvanic effects is influenced not only by the composition and combination of different dental alloys, but to a significant degree also by the quality of used materials and processing.

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