Galvanism Electrical Current With The Power To Destroy
Two dissimilar metals in a saliva environment will produce electrical current by galvanic action, and become a battery of sorts. The five metals frequently found in most amalgam formulations produce an even more complex battery. The electrical currents produced by amalgam are far greater in magnitude than the sensitive electrical currents the brain operates on, and are far greater than the current that activates acupuncture meridians.
These abnormal electrical currents can cause or contribute to a wide variety of symptoms and disease. Typically burning mouth syndrome and Lichen Planus. Amalgam removal in patients who have conditions related to galvanic electrical generation sometimes produces almost immediate improvements.
Rapid improvements may be due to removal of electrical currents produced by the amalgam battery. Modern investigation has only recently begun to examine this important problem area.
We routinely measure Galvanic currents to determine the order the offending dental materials are removed.
Galvanism is a condition in which soft tissue maybe caused by a potential difference created by dissimilar metals in the oral cavity, with saliva serving as the electrolyte. Galvanic currents can be measured – indicating metal ion release.
There are four types of galvanism:
- The classic example of dental galvanism is that of a silver amalgam placed in opposition or adjacent to a tooth restored with gold. These dissimilar metals in conjunction with saliva and body fluids constitute an electric cell. When brought into contact, the circuit is shorted, the flow of electrical current passes through the pulp, and the patient experiences pain.
- A second potential pathway for these currents may occur between teeth in the same arch but not in contact with one another.
- The third and most widely recognized form of electrolytic action as the source of a patient's pain and discomfort is the rather classic one of dissimilar metals coming into contact when the mandibular and maxillary teeth oclude.
- A fourth type of galvanic situation occurs when two adjacent teeth are restored with dissimilar metals. The current flows from metal to metal through the dentine, bone and tissue fluids of both teeth.
Gold and amalgam placed in contact in the oral cavity will cause galvanic current and increased corrosion of the amalgam, with the release of the metal ions. Among the sources of irritation, which can be considered as possible factors in the production of precancerous and cancerous lesions, the oral cavity may be included because of the electrical irritation effect produced by the combination of metals used for filling teeth and the construction of other dental prosthesis.
We can detect a flow of current not only between metals of two different potentials but also between alloys of the same type: namely amalgam to amalgam, and gold to gold. Investigation of oral currents require a miltitester to measure the development of electrical current in miliamperes (mA) or the potential difference in millivolts (mv). There is no risk or harm to the client measuring these currents.
Those patients with symptoms of Bell's palsy, tinnitus, vision disturbance, chronic headaches, trigeminal neuralgia, idiopathic neuromuscular pathologies of head and neck, bruxism or severe depression, Burning mouth syndrome should require electrical testing.
(1) Skinner, E.W. The Science of Dental Materials. W.B. Saunders Company, Chapt. 19, pg. 296. 289-300.
(2) Greener, E.H. Materials Science in Dentistry. The Williams & Wilkins Co. pg. 357-359
(3) Craig, R.G. Restorative Dental Materials. The C.V. Mosby Co. pg.2957, 1980.
Intraoral galvanic corrosion: literature review and case report.
J Prosthet Dent. 1993 Feb;69(2):141-3.
This article reviewed the dental history of a patient with symptomatic electro-chemical reactions after the occlusal relationship of an existing complete gold crown and silver amalgam restoration was changed. A literature review of oral galvanism is presented with diagnostic techniques and treatment options.
PMID: 8429505 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Gen Dent. 1996 Jul-Aug;44(4):324-6.
"Oral electricity," "electrogalvanism," or "galvanic currents" has long been recognized as a potential source of oral pain and discomfort. This phenomenon of oral galvanism results from the difference in electrical potential between dissimilar restorative metals located in the mouth. In this case report, the literature is reviewed, and an interesting case study'is presented. The patient's clinical presentation, and the duration and constancy of the oral symptoms, pose diagnostic challenges. A simple, yet effective treatment regimen is proposed.
Clinical and histologic studies on electrogalvanically induced oral white lesions.
Author: Bánóczy J, Roed-Petersen B, Pindborg JJ, Inovay J. Year: 1979 Journal/Publication/Source: Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol.
PubMed ID: PMID:291858
Comment: "The authors of this study which examines oral galvanism conclude, "The role of electrogalvanic microcurrents in the development of white lesions of the oral mucosa is substantiated by the disappearance or regression of no less than thirty-one out of thirty-six lesions after the different metals were changed."
Abstract/Excerpt: Among 1,128 patients with oral leukoplakia and 326 patients with oral lichen planus included in long-term follow-up studies, thirty-two patients showed lesions of the oral mucosa which could be attributed to electrogalvanism. The material consisted of twenty female and twelve male patients. The clinical diagnosis was leukoplakia in sixteen patients and oral lichen planus in the remaining sixteen patients. Histopathologic characteristics were analyzed and correlated to the clinical findings. In five cases malignant transformation developed. The term electrogalvanic white lesions is suggested as a common denominator for these mucosal changes, which seem to take the shape of lichen planus as often as that of leukoplakia.
Citation: Bánóczy J, Roed-Petersen B, Pindborg JJ, Inovay J. Clinical and histologic studies on electrogalvanically induced oral white lesions. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol. 1979; 48(4): 319-23.
Electrolytic action in the mouth and its relationship to pain.
Author: Mumford JM. Year: 1957 Journal/Publication/Source: J Dent Res. PubMed ID: PMID:13449227
Comment: The author of this study measured EMF currents of dissimilar dental filling materials immersed in saliva, serum, and blood, and he examined why pain occurs in certain cases of oral galvanism.
Abstract/Excerpt: "This subject has been well reviewed by Schriever and Diamond who also gave a considerable biography. However, while it is well known that pain occurs as a result of electrolytic activity in the mouth, it is thought that a clear explanation of how pain occurs has not yet been given. The object of this paper is to try to give such an account." Citation: Mumford JM. Electrolytic action in the mouth and its relationship to pain. J Dent Res. 1957; 36(4):632-40.
Country of origin: United Kingdom
Systemic allergic contact dermatitis due to galvanic couple between mercury amalgam and titanium implant.
Author: Pigatto PDM, Brambilla L, Ferrucci S, Guzzi G. Year: 2010 Journal/Publication/Source: Skin Allergy Meeting
Comment: This study finds that dental amalgam mercury and titanium implants can interact and cause dematitis.
"Abstract: Background Systemic allergic contact dermatitis has been reported in patients with adverse health effects linked to dental alloy restorations. Here we report a case of severe systemic allergic contact dermatitis caused by allergy to metals released by galvanic corrosion between mercury dental amalgam and a titanium dental implant. Methods A 36-year-old woman reporting severe systemic dermatitis with intractable pruritus was examined in April 2002. The rapid onset of dermatitis began several months after she received 2 titanium screws which were implanted in her maxilla and jaw. Examination showed extensive dermatitis with erythema, dry skin with scaling and crusting on face, neck, and inguinal area (Fig.1). She had 2 titanium endosseous implants (on 1.6 and 3.6 area) and 1 mercury amalgam filling on the mandibular left first molar (3.7). We suspected an high rate of intraoral metal ions release due to galvanic corrosion between mercury amalgam filling on 3.7 and the titanium implant-supported gold-alloy crown in 3.6 area. Amalgam tattoo was present on 1.6 gingival area. Results She was patch-tested with general and dental series. We observed very strong positive allergic reactions to nickel sulfate 5% (+++) and potassium dichromate 0.5% (+++), gold sodium thiosulfate 0.5% (++), all in petrolatum. Lymphocyte stimulation test confirmed nickel allergy (stimulation index: 6.7). Dental amalgam as well as metal ceramic crown on implant were removed to eliminate the oral galvanism corrosion. The systemic contact dermatitis resolved completely within 8 months after the removal of mercury amalgam. There have been reports of skin disorders associated with mercury amalgam such as nummular dermatitis, eczema, urticaria, pink exanthem, cutaneous lichen planus, orofacial granulomatosis. Adverse events associated with titanium implants are yellow nail syndrome, sinusitis, neuropathy, implant-related immune activation, arthritis, and leukopenia. Conclusions Clinicians should consider allergy to metal ions released from galvanic couple between mercury amalgam and titanium implant in patients with systemic dermatitis."
Citation: Pigatto PDM, Brambilla L, Ferrucci S, Guzzi G. Systemic allergic contact dermatitis due to galvanic couple between mercury amalgam and titanium implant. Skin Allergy Meeting. 2010.
Dissimilar metals in the mouth as a possible cause of otherwise unexplainable symptoms.
Author: Hyams BL, Ballon HC. Year: 1933 Journal/Publication/Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal PubMed ID: 20319291
Comment: This study has been cited for suggesting that dissimilar metals in the mouth can contribute to electrical activity and corrosion and that in some individuals, this can cause unexplained pain, ulcerations, inflammation, and other conditions.
Abstract/Excerpt: “Recent investigations have demonstrated the fact that metals in the mouth may set up electro-galvanic discharges. These discharges take place between dissimilar metals, and, according to Solomon, Reinhard and Goodale, on some few occasions between alloys of the same type. THEORY: It is generally well known that electrical energy is produced when dissimilar metals are immersed in an electrolyte. The metals are found to be arranged in the electromotive force series from positive (highest potential) to negative as follows: (positive end) aluminum, zinc, chromium, iron, nickel, tin, copper, mercury, silver, palladium, platinum, gold (negative end). Electrogalvanic activity parallels chemical activity.”
Citation: Hyams BL, Ballon HC. Dissimilar metals in the mouth as a possible cause of otherwise unexplainable symptoms. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 1933; 29(5):488.
Contact dermatitis to metals.
Author: Garner LA. Year: 2004 Journal/Publication/Source: Dermatol Ther. PubMed ID: 15327477
Abstract/Excerpt: "Abstract: Metals are in close contact with skin and mucous membranes on a repeated, if not constant, basis. Nickel and mercury, well-recognized causes of contact dermatitis; gold and palladium, recently gaining acceptance as patch test allergens on standard screening trays; and cobalt are reviewed in this article. Sensitization to nickel, the most frequently identified allergen on patch testing, is associated with ear piercing. Contact with this potential allergen is ubiquitous. Mercury may be encountered as organic mercury in thimerosal, used as an antiseptic and a preservative in topical medications and vaccines, and metallic mercury found in dental amalgam and thermometers. Both forms may cause contact dermatitis. Gold, recognized as a frequent sensitizer, has been implicated in some cases of eyelid, patchy diffuse and oral lichenoid dermatitis. Cobalt allergy, found frequently in patients who are nickel allergic, also has been associated with ear piercing. Palladium sensitivity is often associated with nickel allergy. However, the incidence of clinical relevance is yet to be established."
Citation: Garner LA. Contact dermatitis to metals. Dermatol Ther. 2004; 17(4):321-327.
Diagnosis and treatment of metal-induced side-effects.
Author: Stejskal V, Hudecek R, Stejskal J, Sterzl I.Year: 2006 Journal/Publication/Source: Neuro Endocrinol Lett.
PubMed ID: PMID:17261999
Comment: The researchers conclude, "Dental materials and implants can induce sensitization in genetically susceptible individuals. The frequency of metal allergy is significantly higher in patients with autoimmune disorders and CFS than in healthy controls...Many case reports and clinical studies show that the replacement of amalgam or other metal alloys in allergic individuals can lead to dramatic clinical improvement. To avoid side-effects, it is important to follow a strict working protocol, which minimizes the risk of metal exposure for the patient."
Abstract/Excerpt: "Environmental factors are recognized as a cause of the increasing frequency of allergic and autoimmune diseases. In addition to external pollutants, metal ions released from dental restorations or from other body implants might trigger inflammation in susceptible subjects. In humans, genes governing metal-induced inflammation and autoimmunity are not yet known. In clinical praxis, metal-sensitive patients will present various symptoms ranging from oral mucosal changes and skin disease to excessive fatigue and autoimmune diseases. Since genetic markers of genetic susceptibility in man are not known, one has to rely on the phenototypic markers. Such biomarkers might be certain detoxification enzymes but also the presence of metal-specific memory cells in the blood. With the increasing use of metal implants in medicine and dentistry, it is important to have a proper tool for the diagnosis of metal allergy in susceptible subjects. After nickel, gold is now the second most common sensitizer. In addition to patch test, an in vitro blood test, an optimized commercially available lymphocyte transformation test (MELISA) is discussed. Both tests were used for the diagnosis of metal allergy in a selected group of 15 patients who suffered from clinical metal sensitivity in addition to other health problems. The concordance of the two tests was good but MELISA detected more metal allergies than patch test. The removal of incompatible dental material (RID) resulted in long-term health improvement in the majority of patients. We postulate that in vivo, metal ions activate T-cells, initiating systemic inflammation, which, through cytokines, affects the brain and hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. We postulate that in vivo metal ions will activate T-cells starting systemic inflammation which, through cytokines affect the brain and hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The treatment and rehabilitation of metal sensitive patients is based on a firm understanding and recognition of individual susceptibility. RID has to be done done with extreme caution and according to standard working protocol. If performed properly, this treatment can result in decreased systemic inflammation and improved health in sensitized patients."
Citation: Stejskal V, Hudecek R, Stejskal J, Sterzl I. Diagnosis and treatment of metal-induced side-effects. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006; 27 Suppl 1:7-16. Review. Erratum in: Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2007 Oct;28(5):iii.
Metal-specific lymphocyte reactivity is downregulated after dental metal replacement.
Author: Yaqob A, Danersund A, Stejskal VD, Lindvall A, Hudecek R, Lindh U. Year: 2006 Journal/Publication/Source: Neuro Endocrinol Lett.PubMed ID: PMID:16648791
Comment: This authors of this study about patients with metal induced inflammation note, "Thus for patients who are genetically susceptible to
metal pathology, the strict avoidance of metal exposure is strongly recommended."
"OBJECTIVES: This study was done to evaluate the results and clinical relevance of an optimized lymphocyte proliferation test, MELISA, for metal-induced inflammation in patients with CFS-like symptoms. The treatment of patients consisted of the replacement of incompatible dental materials (RID) together with supportive anti-oxidant therapy.
DESIGN OF THE STUDY: 513 patients were tested by MELISA at the beginning of the study. Out of this group, 248 patients were available for follow-up MELISA after RID.
METHODS: In MELISA, lymphocytes are isolated from the blood and cultivated with different metal salts in tissue culture medium containing 10% inactivated human AB+ serum or autologous serum. After 5 days, the presence of metal-reactive lymphocytes are measured by isotope labelling of newly formed DNA in growing lymphoblasts and evaluated by calculating the Stimulation Index.
RESULTS: Nickel was the most common sensitizer, followed by inorganic mercury, thimerosal, lead, cadmium, palladium and gold. After RID treatment, a decrease of metal-specific lymphocyte responses in patients who reacted to metals at the beginning of the study could be observed. The cultivation of lymphocytes in autologous and homologous serum did not significantly affect the results. Simultaneous, the health status of patients improved as well.
CONCLUSIONS: Replacement of incompatible dental materials resulted in down-regulation of metal-induced lymphocyte sensitivity in vitro, as well as in the improvement of health status of majority of patients with unspecific CFS-like symptoms."
Citation: Yaqob A, Danersund A, Stejskal VD, Lindvall A, Hudecek R, Lindh U. Metal-specific lymphocyte reactivity is downregulated after dental metal replacement. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006; 27(1-2):189-97.
The role of metals in autoimmunity and the link to neuroendocrinology.
Author: Stejskal J, Stejskal VD. Year: 1999 Journal/Publication/Source: Neuro Endocrinol Lett. PubMed ID: 11458198
Comment: This paper examines health risks potentially related to metal sensitivity and genetic factors.
Abstract/Excerpt: "Abstract: Current available literature indicates a risk for metal-induced autoimmunity in man. Metal pathology may be due to toxic or allergic mechanisms where both may play a role. The main factors decisive for disease induced by metals are exposure and genetics which determine the individual detoxifying capacity and sensitivity to metals. This paper reviews the possible mechanisms which may play a role in metal-induced autoimmunity with the emphasis on multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We also discuss the role of inflammation-induced changes in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis as a possible explanation of fatigue, depression and other psychosomatic symptoms observed in these diseases. The increased knowledge about individual sensitivity based on genotype and phenotype variability together with the use of biomarkers for the diagnosis of this individual susceptibility seems to be the key in elucidation of the operating mechanisms. Since metal-induced sensitization may be induced by chronic low-dose exposure, the conventional toxicological approach comparing concentrations of metals in brain autopsies, organ biopsies and body fluids in patients and controls may not provide answers regarding the metal-pathology connection. To address this issue, longitudinal studies of metal-sensitive patients are preferable to the traditional case-control studies."
Citation: Stejskal J, Stejskal VD. The role of metals in autoimmunity and the link to neuroendocrinology. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 1999; 20(6):351-366.