Research into the electrical behavior of metallic dental restorations has always simply ignored any effect of the thermoelectric properties of dental materials.
A typical example of this lapse in scientific rigor can be seen in the paper:
"The Role of Electrical Potential Differences in the Etiology of Chronic Diseases of the Oral Mucosa", János Inovay and Jolán Bánóczy, Journal of Dental Research, 1960.
- which can be viewed at http://jdr.sagepub.com/content/40/5/884.full.pdf
The authors of this paper state in their introduction that "Thermoelectric efficiency, electro-osmosis, and membrane potentials were neglected because of their order of magnitude."
However, in addition to the fact that there is a complete lack of scientific data on just exactly what the magnitudes of the thermoelectric potentials generated by metallic dental materials are, one of the world's top thermoelectric scientists is now suggesting that these potentials may be large enough to stimulate neurological function in animal tissue.
Professor Lukyan Ivanovich Anatychuk, Director of the Institute of Thermoelectricity at the National Academy of Sciences in the Ukraine, believes that the thermoelectric potential generated by a single contact between dissimilar metals acting at only ordinary levels of temperature differential is sufficient to dissipate electrical energy through nerve fibres, see:
The paper by Inovay and Bánóczy describes how:
"...the simultaneous use of dissimilar metals (precious metals, stainless-steel alloys, amalgam) is common in modern dentistry"
Indeed, not only is dental amalgam an inhomogeneous mixture of dissimilar metals in its own right, but it has also been common practice for dentists to screw metal alloy retaining pins into the root sockets of patients' teeth and then encase the heads of the pins in amalgam, thereby creating further opportunity for the generation of thermoelectric potentials at the interfaces between the retaining pins and the amalgams.
However, in spite of the fact that dental restorations such as this continue to be placed in people's teeth, it appears that the dental profession knows NOTHING AT ALL about the thermoelectric properties of metallic dental materials.
I think that it's about time that this anomaly was redressed.
Keith P Walsh