Thinking of getting dental implants for missing teeth? If so, you should make sure that you rule out a metal allergy beforehand. In order for the procedure to be successful, your jaw bone needs to grow around the implant—known as osseointegration. If you have a metal allergy, you may develop inflammation and sores, which slow osseointegration and cause implant failure.
Read on for frequently asked questions and answers about metal allergies, dental implants, and alternative solutions.
What Do Metal Allergies Do and What are the Most Common Ones?
Like any other allergic reaction, people with metal allergies have an immune system that will treat metal as a foreign substance, thus causing rashes, hives, etc.
Nickel is arguably the most common metal that triggers allergic reactions, while chromium, cobalt, and copper follow behind it.
The good news is that most dental implants are made of titanium and that allergies to titanium are on the low side at about 0.6 percent. So, even if you've had an allergic reaction to nickel or another metal, you may not necessarily have a reaction to titanium.
What If You Are Unsure About Metal Allergies?
Thankfully you can test for metal allergies. You'll need to see an allergy specialist to do patch testing. During these tests, the doctor will apply suspected allergens to small areas of your back. The areas will be covered with bandages and then they will be reevaluated later for any reaction. If you are allergic, you'll usually experience contact dermatitis.
What If You Are Allergic to Titanium?
If you do find out that you are allergic to titanium, be sure to notify your dentist. Instead of titanium, you could get implants made of zirconia. Zirconia is a crystalline-like substance that is made mainly of ceramic. While zirconia implants aren't quite as stable titanium ones because of their design differences, they still have a fantastic success rate. One study showed a 95 percent success rate after five years.
Some patients may even prefer zirconia to avoid oral galvanism. When different metals are used for fillings and other restorations, metal ions can sometimes cause discomfort as the saliva acts as an electrolyte. While oral galvanism is less commonly seen today since many people opt for non-silver fillings, it is a valid concern for people with multiple restorative materials.
If implants aren't a good fit for other reasons besides allergies, your dentist can look into many other options, such as fixed bridges. Contact dental implants services in your area for more information on implants.