Should You Worry About The Titanium Used In Dental Implants? Is There Another Option?

Dentist Blog

Dental implants have been a game-changer in the dental world—patients who lost their natural teeth can now opt for implants over ordinary dentures. Implants, which are designed to replace natural teeth all the way down to the roots, help keep the jawbone from shrinking and are generally considered more predictable than resin-bonded bridges and other endodontic treatments. However, there are some questions about the choice of materials used for implants. Most implants use titanium alloys in their screws, which is pure titanium mixed with other materials to keep the titanium from being too soft to be practical. There are some patients and dentists, however, who feel that titanium presents potential problems for those with autoimmune disorders. This is what you should know about dental implants with titanium and your options.

There's a belief that titanium implants can trigger or mimic autoimmune disorders.

An autoimmune disorder is any disorder like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto's syndrome, Cushings, or Addison's disease, among others, where the body's autoimmune system essentially over-reacts, attacking itself and causing a host of symptoms. Many of the symptoms are similar: muscle pain, chronic fatigue, headaches, and skin rashes account for a lot of the symptoms. 

Because it's already known that people can develop metal allergies, there are concerns that as many as 4% of people may be allergic to titanium. It should be noted that titanium is used in a number of products, not just dental implants. It has long been used to help screw plates in broken bones, and titanium can be found in everything from cosmetics to toothpaste. 

Because the full effects of metal allergies aren't known, there's concern that titanium implants can either trigger an autoimmune disease that's already genetically encoded in the patient's body or cause an allergy that will mimic one. The idea achieved some notoriety when iconic actor Dick Van Dyke claimed that he traced a mysterious illness that left him fatigued, plagued by headaches, and suffering from insomnia to his titanium implants.

There's also a belief that having diverse metals in your mouth, like titanium for implants and metal alloys used for fillings you had done in the past, can result in a low electrical current when mixed with saliva, called "oral galvanism." This is supposed to have a negative effect on the function of the nervous system.

What are your choices if you're reluctant to get titanium implants but still want implants over dentures?

Your primary choice is zirconium dental implants instead of titanium. Those who promote alternatives to titanium say that zirconium oxide dental implants are high-impact ceramics and more compatible with the human body in general. Zirconium does not conduct electricity, so it doesn't interfere with the body's natural energy systems or create the oral galvanism that titanium can when mixed with other metals. 

In addition, zirconium is resistant to corrosion and fractures from pressure. It also doesn't interfere with the body's immune system and doesn't have any free radicals, which can lead to problems like gum disease and inflammation with titanium alloy implants.

While it should be noted that most people get titanium implants without any problems, if you have concerns, you should discuss the issue with your dentist prior to getting the implants. In particular, if you have a lot of chemical or environmental allergies or already have an autoimmune disorder, talking with your dentist can help you both explore other options or allay your fears. 


29 September 2016

Dentistry for the Whole Family

Do you have a different doctor from your spouse? Does your child see a pediatrician? Most families have different medical health providers for different members of the family. This makes sense in most cases, but did you know that you can find a dentist who will treat every person in the family from a baby to a senior? I'm a manager or a family dentist, and in this blog you will learn why a family dentist is a great idea. I will tell you the many advantages of taking every family member to the same dentist, and I will give you tips of finding the right dental office for your family.