I lost a visible tooth and need to get it replaced. I keep hearing dental implants are the best replacement, but the idea of putting metal in my body worries me. Will the implant start to rust and make me sick?
The most common dental implants are made of titanium, which has a fantastic biocompatible track record. Because of their TiO2 (titanium oxide) layer, these aren’t like other metals and are extraordinarily resistant to rusting. This is the same material used in things such as hip and joint replacements. There have been decades of use with minimal problems. So, I’d say you’re perfectly safe getting the titanium implants.
However, there’s no absolute guarantee that oxidation won’t take place. There are too many factors. If you are concerned, you do have options.
Options to Metal-Based Dental Implants
Your first option is not to get a dental implant at all. You could get a dental bridge. They won’t require any metal, especially if you decide on an all-porcelain crown. However, that also means placing crowns on the two adjacent teeth. If there’s nothing wrong with them, that means grinding down healthy tooth structure. Something which is rarely recommended.
Your second option is to get a metal-free dental implant. These are made from zirconia and is very strong. In fact, its nickname is ceramic steel. However, there are drawbacks. This technology is newer, which means two things. One, we don’t have the amount of research we do with titanium implants to tell you they’ve been used successfully for decades. Two, they have to be handled differently and not all dentists know the newer techniques required.
Dental Implant Failure
Unless you have a severe metal allergy, your biggest concern about dental implants shouldn’t be the material base as much as the dentist who places them. You want an experienced dentist with a high success rate. Dental implant failure is real. You don’t want to invest all that time and money on such an advanced procedure with an inexperienced dentist to save money only to have the whole thing fail and you have to start over.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Pumphrey.