Dental Implants Metal Allergy
There are several options for replacing missing teeth, including dentures and dental implants. Dental implants are a popular option for replacing missing teeth, as they are long-lasting, durable, are often more comfortable than dentures, provide improved speech, and give people a natural-looking smile. They are also more convenient and easier to care for—implant care is the same as how you would care for your natural teeth
How Dental Implants Work
The basic procedure for dental implants begins with extracting the damaged root of the tooth. Then, your dentist will drill a hole into the jawbone into which a titanium metal post will be implanted.
Bone must grow around the post to secure it. This can take up to two months. Then an abutment—a prosthetic piece that screws onto and sits above the gums—is placed onto the post. Finally, a crown that serves as the artificial tooth is secured to the abutment.
For dental implants to be successful, once the post is placed in the jawbone, it is essential that the body can grow additional bone around the implanted post to secure it. An allergy to the titanium post can interfere with this process and ultimately cause the implants to fail.
If I Have a Metal Allergy Can I Still Get Dental Implants?
What if you have a metal allergy, particularly an allergy to titanium? Can you still get dental implants?
The answer is usually yes. Not all metal allergies will affect your ability to get dental implants, but if you have a metal allergy, it is important to determine which metal you are allergic to before getting your implants. Here we will explain some of the options people with metal allergies have when deciding on dental implants.
What is a Metal Allergy?
An allergy to metal, like all allergies, is when the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance. The response can be mild, such as a minor rash, or can be life-threatening. People can be allergic to anything, including metals
Metal allergies are usually specific to a certain type of metal. allergic reactions to metal come from contact with jewelry or other metal items and usually involve rashes or other skin reactions. When a metal you are allergic to is placed in the body, however, it can result in a rejection of the replacement part.
Metal allergies are rare, particularly allergies to titanium, the usual metal used for dental implants. For example, about 17 percent of women and three percent of men have a nickel allergy. Cobalt or chromium metal allergies are more rare. Titanium allergies are among the most rare—it is estimated that only about 0.6 percent of all people have a titanium allergy. In one study, less than one percent out of 1,500 patients with titanium dental implants reported any reactions at all.
Why is Titanium Used in Dental Implants?
Dental implants (and other medical bone replacements, such as hip or knee replacements) are usually made from titanium because it works well with bone. Titanium is used because the cells that create bone are more likely to adhere to titanium than other metals. This is important in dental implants to make sure the implant bonds well with the jawbone.
How Do I Know if I Have a Titanium Allergy?
Some signs of a titanium allergy after dental implants are placed include chronic inflammation, sores or bumps, rash around the implant, or swelling.
If you think you may have a titanium allergy or are concerned about it, your physician has two ways to determine if titanium dental implants are safe for your body before your dental implants are placed.
One test is called a MELISA test. This is a blood test that isolates white blood cells, exposes them to titanium, and then measures your immune response. This is the most accurate test.
Another test that is sometimes performed is a traditional skin patch test, as is used to detect other allergies. A physician or allergist will prick the skin, then apply a patch containing a small amount of titanium in it. You will then be observed for an hour to see if your skin shows a reaction to the titanium patch, indicating an allergy.
Alternatives to Titanium Dental Implants
One excellent option for people who have a titanium allergy is the use of zirconia posts rather than titanium. Zirconia is not metal at all—instead, it is a strong ceramic material. Zirconia dental implants, first developed in 1987, are now widely used. They offer the following benefits:
- It carries a low risk of allergic reaction
- It is a strong and durable material that resists corrosion
- It bonds tightly with the bone like titanium
- It discourages plaque accumulation
- It is aesthetically pleasing, at it is a white material that will not darken the gums
- If you’re interested in dental implants but are worried about metal allergies, zirconia dental implants may be an option.
What if I Am Allergic to Both Zirconium and Titanium?
It is extremely rare for a patient to be allergic to both titanium and zirconia. If, however, this is the case, if other teeth are present in the mouth a dental bridge is the best option for replacing missing teeth. Bridges are attached to two crowns on existing natural teeth to fill the gaps left by your missing teeth.
Bridges do not require any titanium or zirconia to be surgically placed in your gum tissue. Thus, they do not carry the risk of an allergic reaction and are a durable, long-lasting option for replacing missing teeth.
If you are interested in dental implants and know or suspect you may have a titanium allergy, it is still possible that you could still be a good candidate for zirconium dental implants. It is important to work with your dentist and physician to determine if you have a titanium allergy before dental implants are placed, and if so, discuss the feasibility of zirconium dental implants to achieve the results you are looking for.