Metal Allergies and Dental Implants
“Can I Be Allergic to Titanium Dental Implants?”
Discover the Links Between Metal Allergies and Dental Implants
By far, the most commonly implanted metals used in orthopedic and dental restoration devices are cobalt/chrome, stainless steel and titanium. Virtually all implants are alloys, meaning they are a combination of several different metals. The base metals (iron, nickel, lead, zinc and copper) are found in the highest quantities, but smaller amounts of other metals are also found in the implant. Considering that roughly ten to fifteen percent of the population experiences some form of allergic reaction to metal it is important to consider alternatives to metal implants.
Why All the Fuss about Metal Allergies?
An allergic reaction is a response of the body’s immune system when it detects an invasion of foreign substances, whether living or non-living. Allergic responses can range from a mild rash to death from a multi-system shutdown known as anaphylaxis. A person can become allergic to virtually anything, anywhere and anytime, including metals.
Environmental exposures to metals include; joint replacement, dental implants, dental restorations, jewelry, body piercings and even mobile phones. Traditionally nickel, cobalt and chromium have been the most prevalently reported contact allergens; however gold and palladium (primarily alloys that contain more than one metal) have drawn more attention recently. In the United States, studies show that the prevalence of nickel allergy is on the rise (likely due to the growing popularity of body piercings). Metal allergy is also being reported in association with certain device failures following surgical placement such as stents into coronary (heart) blood vessels, hip and knee prostheses, as well as dental and other implants.
Metal Dental Implants – originally the only choice
Metal dental implants were originally made out of commercially pure titanium or titanium alloy, providing the only option for anyone wishing to undergo implant tooth replacement. One aspect of titanium and titanium alloys is that they are generally considered ‘osteophilic’ (bone-friendly) and therefore considered to be biocompatible, providing a clear improvement over dentures and bridges. With a growing body of evidence to the contrary provided by researchers and patients alike, we now know that placing metallic dental implants and other restorative devices can potentially provoke allergic reactions and implant failure. One study involving 1,500 patients helped to drive the fact home when it demonstrated that titanium allergy could be clearly detected in dental implant patients. A notably higher risk of positive allergic reaction was found in patients whose implants failed for no other known reason other than that they had a higher incidence of allergic reaction.
Worst Case Scenario – Autoimmune Disorders
The most significant symptom which can cause the most severe problem is ‘chronic fatigue’. Muscle pain and chronic fatigue presenting without any known cause are the more serious symptoms associated with an allergy to metals. Unfortunately, since people don’t usually link overall fatigue with an immune disorder stemming from a metal implant they can suffer from this type of reaction for months or years before seeking help.
Autoimmune Disorders on the Rise
Between 15 and 25 million Americans are reportedly affected every year by one autoimmune disorder or another. When you realize that an allergic reaction is actually the immune system turning on itself in a state of hyperactivity of the immune system then you can begin to see the correlation between autoimmune disorders and allergies, and doctors are now beginning to realize that allergies are quite often a precursor to autoimmune disease.
A growing list of health problems are suspected to be related to metal allergies potentially instrumental in the onslaught of autoimmune diseases such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Psoriasis, and Scleroderma, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and others. With this alarming rise in autoimmune diseases and the suspicion of a correlation between metal allergies and a weakening immune system it only makes sense to take whatever steps we can to ensure that our patients are biocompatible with an implant before allowing any substance or material to be permanently affixed into the mouth.
The Better Alternative That Can Last a Lifetime
Today, ceramic dental implants are considered to be the best and safest alternative to metal implants. The advantage of these implants is that they are ceramic, they are made from zirconium oxide also called zirconia and thus there is no concern of corrosion, allergic reaction or electronic interference. Overall qualities of ceramic dental implants include;
Biocompatibility: the zirconium used in the manufacture of ceramic dental implants is an inert material with very low allergic potential.
Strength: The strength of the dental implant is exceptional compared to other metal implants.
Metal-free: no corrosion, no galvanism effect, no metallic taste, no electronic disturbances and no Gum irritation. Hygienic: Oral plaque and tartar do not accumulate on the surface of zirconium imlpants, therefore they remain clean and allow for a healthy environment around the implant bone and soft tissue.
Allergy Testing – An Important Part of the Whole
Our goal is to treat the whole person through the use of safe, natural and painless methods. Our innovative approach to dental care focuses on the health and wellness of the mouth in relation to the whole body, including identifying and treating issues pertaining to metal allergies and autoimmune disorders. We only recommend products that we know to be safe and that will provide the most positive, lasting results for our patients, such as ceramic dental implants. To learn more call to schedule your free personal consultation today.