Dental Implants Metal Allergy
For the past several decades, titanium has been the material of choice for placement of dental implants. The reason titanium has been the go-to choice is because it is the only metal that naturally fuses with jawbone, through a process called osseointegration. Additionally, titanium implants have had a very high success rate and are supported by decades of research. While titanium implants can be a highly effective solution for most patients, there is a small percentage of individual’s who have metal allergies so sensitive that their body will reject the implant.
Allergies are your body’s immune system overreacting to a foreign substance, which can cause a range of issues to develop, such as something minor, like a rash, or something life-threatening, like your body’s organ systems shutting down. Metal allergies are not all that uncommon, with approximately 3% of men and 17% of women being allergic to nickel. While most metal allergies occur due to external contact, say from a piece of jewelry, more serious reactions can occur when the metal is used as a body replacement part.
There are a number of different metals that may be used in dental procedures, most commonly with tooth fillings, such as silver, gold, tin, copper, and mercury. Though most patients do not have any issues with these materials, there are cases where rashes and/or inflammation have occurred. Even rarer than this is patients being allergic to titanium. To learn more about titanium allergies, what steps you can take to determine if you have a titanium allergy, and alternative treatment options to traditional titanium dental implants, please refer to the following.
Titanium Allergy Symptoms & Tests
The best way to determine if you have a titanium allergy is to be tested with a MELISA test, which isolates and exposes your white blood cells to titanium. Once your cells have been exposed, the lab technician will measure your body’s immune response. A skin test is also available, but is not as accurate, which is why a MELISA test is typically what is performed. If you have not been tested for a titanium allergy, any of the following symptoms may be an indication that you have a metal allergy:
- Swelling or sores in the oral soft tissues
- Gum inflammation or inflammation around the implant
- Dry patches of gum tissue
- Bumps and hives in the mouth
Can I Get Dental Implants if I Have a Metal Allergy?
If you have a metal allergy and are concerned that you are not a viable candidate for dental implants, please know that there are alternative treatment options available. It is also important to be aware that not all metal allergies apply to every metal. While titanium allergies can occur, they only show up in approximately .6% of the population, whereas approximately 13% of the population have sensitivity to chromium, cobalt, or nickel. If you have been tested positive for an allergy to titanium, or if you are concerned at the prospect of having metal put into your body, you may be a good candidate for Zirconia dental implants. Zirconia (or porcelain) implants are made of a metal oxidized structure, which means it will not provoke an allergic reaction among patients with metal sensitivities. In addition to being a very low allergic reaction risk, other benefits of zirconia dental implants include:
- Strong, durable solution with solid fracture resistance
- Will not corrode
- Less likely to accumulate plaque compared to titanium dental implants
- Improved aesthetic appearance, especially among patients with thinner gums or for patients having a front tooth replaced
While these are all appealing benefits, there are some drawbacks to zirconia dental implants, which include:
- Liable to develop tiny cracks and deteriorate over time
- Unlike titanium implants, which are comprised of multiple parts, zirconia implants are one-piece implants. This increases the complexity of the procedure and may not be a suitable option for angled abutment
- Zirconia implants are much newer on the market than titanium implants, so there is not nearly the same level of longitudinal data to support their efficacy
- Patients with bruxism or who need adjustment after their implant is fitted may want to avoid zirconia implants, as these can cause its fracture resistance to weaken
Alternative Treatment Options
On the unlikely event that you are allergic to titanium and zirconia, you may be a good candidate for alternative treatment options, such as the following:
- Dental bridge: A dental bridge can be a good option for patients who are missing one or more teeth. The dental bridge attaches to surrounding natural teeth to support the replacement crown/crowns. The biggest drawback to dental bridges is that they are not as strong as dental implants and require special maintenance.
- Temporary partial denture: One of the most cost affordable treatment options for missing teeth, a temporary partial denture work in a fashion similar to a retainer, in that they are removable and contain one or more replacement teeth. While a temporary partial denture can restore the appearance of your smile and are easy to remove to clean, they are not durable and will need to be replaced with some frequency.
- Snap-in denture: Snap in dentures are a hybrid of implants and dentures. Snap in dentures are designed with a few snaps which can attach to implants that are placed into the jawbone. Although snap-in dentures are more expensive than temporary partial dentures, they are also more expensive, though not as expensive as permanent dental implants.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
If you are considering dental implants but are concerned that you may have a metal allergy or would like to learn more about other implant options, such as bridges or zirconia implants, schedule an appointment with your periodontist today. They will perform a thorough evaluation, take diagnostic tests, and discuss your treatment goals, which will allow them to provide their professional recommendation as to which treatment option is best suited for you. This appointment will also be a good opportunity to ask any additional questions you may have about the procedure, such as the cost involved, whether their office has financing options available, and what types of dental sedation are available to ensure you are as comfortable as possible while the procedure is being performed.