The use of nickel casting alloys for long-term restorations in dentistry has long been controversial. A 'tug-of-war' between economic, engineering and biological considerations is central to this controversy; nickel-casting alloys have low costs and favorable physical properties, but are corrosion-prone in the oral environment. Clinicians and researchers have questioned the safety of nickel-containing dental alloys because several nickel compounds are known to cause adverse biological effects in vivo and in vitro in contexts outside of dentistry. The debate revolves around the extent to which corrosion products from oral restorations cause intraoral or systemic biological problems. Current evidence suggests that nickel alloys may be used successfully and safely in dentistry if clinical risks are taken into account. However, these alloys may cause significant clinical problems, primarily allergenic and inflammatory, if the risks are ignored.
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