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Colloidal Silver for a Tooth Infection: Does It Work?

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You may have heard about colloidal silver and its potential value as a dietary supplement or homeopathic remedy. Most colloidal silver products come in a solution containing microscopic silver particles, according to the Mayo Clinic. These products often claim to boost immune systems, fight bacteria and viruses and even treat conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, shingles, herpes, eye infections and prostatitis. However, none of these claims have been proven — to date, the ingestion of silver has no known health benefits.

The same goes for using colloidal silver for a tooth infection or to treat any other dental health issues. Here's what you need to know about using colloidal silver for dental ailments.

Potential Uses of Silver in Dentistry

According to a review article in the International Journal of Biomaterials, silver nanoparticles have been incorporated into dental materials because of their antibacterial properties. Silver, such as that found in dental amalgam fillings, may help to prevent or reduce the formation of disease-causing bacterial biofilm on the surface of many restorative materials. However, research in this area is still ongoing, and these uses do not apply to colloidal silver, which is typically found as a liquid solution.

Another recent research article published by F1000 Research notes that a gel containing colloidal silver shows promise in controlling S. mutans, S. sanguis and S. salivarius — all species of bacteria related to plaque formation and tooth decay. But this article also stresses the need for further research before colloidal silver can be considered for general usage in dentistry.

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Colloidal Silver for a Tooth Infection?

There is no research or evidence indicating that colloidal silver can help to treat tooth pain, infections or dental abcesses. In fact, taking colloidal silver internally can be dangerous. Here are three potential effects to be aware of:

  • Skin discoloration: According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common consequence of taking colloidal silver is argyria, a bluish-gray discoloration of the skin, nails, eyes, internal organs and gums, which is usually permanent.
  • Interference with medications: The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that colloidal silver may interfere with your body's ability to absorb certain antibiotics and thyroxine, which is used to treat thyroid deficiency. It has also been shown to interact with and inhibit other medications, such as penicillamine, quinolone antibiotics and tetracycline, as the Mayo Clinic notes.
  • Other systemic health problems: While rare, the Mayo Clinic also warns that excessive colloidal silver intake may also possibly cause irreversible kidney damage and neurological problems such as seizures.

Is Colloidal Silver Dangerous?

According to the NCCIH, silver products used topically have proven useful in treating some medical conditions such as burns, skin wounds and skin infections. However, there is no evidence that the ingestion of silver-containing substances treats or prevents health problems. Additionally, there are currently no over-the-counter or legally marketed oral prescriptions that contain colloidal silver.

Tooth pain and dental infections should not be treated by anyone other than a dentist. In this age of do-it-yourself trends, it's important to take the step to see your dentist if you are having dental pain or think you may be suffering from a dental infection. This is one issue for which you'll need to seek the advice of a professional.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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