If you are going to go to the trouble of replacing toxic dental materials, you should be as sure as possible that the materials put back in are tolerable to your system. Although biocompatibility testing is not a perfected art, experience has shown that we can nearly always avoid replacing toxic materials with others equally problematic. The more sensitive or unwell a person is, the more critical this becomes. For such people, we like to use more than one method of testing and cross check the results, so as to use only materials that satisfy all available criteria.
The most scientific way of testing materials is the “serum compatibility test” from Clifford Consulting Lab, which is basically an allergy test. A blood sample is sent to an immunology laboratory, where an assay is performed for the presence of antibodies to all of the chemicals and metals used in dental materials. The results of this test allow us to pick dental materials that you are less likely to react against. It is a bit costly, but it can be very helpful. We sometimes insist that this test be done, especially if the patient has multiple allergies, chemical sensitivities, or other chronic illness.
Another test that is useful for detecting metal allergies is the MELISA test, a blood test for “delayed hypersensitivity.” We try to be metal-free whenever possible, but sometimes it is necessary to use metals, such as gold or titanium. Few people react to gold or titanium, even among those who are known to be allergic to metals, but if we must know, this test will detect the reaction.
We frequently use applied kinesiology, or muscle testing, in our office, as a somewhat informal indicator of materials compatibility. This is a technique developed by the chiropractic profession that provides an indication of central nervous system tolerance, or intolerance. Some people also consult practitioners of electrodermal testing, a method based upon acupuncture, for materials testing. For the more sensitive patients, we often prepare physical samples of dental materials that the tests indicate as likely to be acceptable, and have the patient hold them in the mouth, or tape them to the skin. If no reaction occurs, we feel confident that the new material will be tolerated.