Could you be allergic to titanium dental implants? (2023)

Dental implants have helped millions of men and women enjoy greater confidence, improved facial aesthetics and better oral function following tooth loss. And for the vast majority of patients, the implant process is straightforward and uneventful, with no serious side effects or complications.

But invery few cases, patients may have allergic reactions to the titanium metal used in dental implants. In past blog posts, we’ve discussed the possible complications and risks associated withmercury amalgam fillingsand thepros and cons of zirconia implants compared to titanium implantsto help you become more aware and informed. In this post, we delve a little deeper into titanium allergies so you can understand how to assess your risk forallergicreaction and feel more confident about your oral health care. Here’s what you should know.

How common are titanium allergies?

Titanium allergies are rare, occurring in about 0.6% of the population,according to one study. That means as many as 1.8 million people in the U.S. may be allergic to titanium to some degree. Other studies suggest the allergic reaction or hypersensitivity to titanium could be much higher. When they do occur, titanium allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include:

  • loosening of the implants (or implant failure)
  • rash or hives
  • sores and swelling in the soft tissues of the mouth
  • chronic inflammationinthe gums around the implant
  • problems with wound healing
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • acne-like swelling or inflammation of the face
  • muscle and joint achiness
  • neurological problems

Even though the risk of titanium allergy may be quite low, the reactions can have significant impacts on your overall health and wellness -- which brings us to the next issue: How can you tell if you’re allergic to titanium?

(Video) Possible titanium dental implant allergy solved with a CeraRoot zirconia implant.

Titanium Allergy Test

Many allergies can be diagnosed through a simple method called a skin patch test. In these tests, suspected allergens are applied to very small areas of skin, usually on your back. Then these areas are covered with waterproof bandages and left alone for a period of time. When the time elapses, the skin areas are evaluated for signs of irritation that indicate an allergic reaction.

But while skin patch tests are ideal for some types of allergies, they’re not very accurate for other, including titanium allergies. To test for a titanium allergy, you’ll need to have a different type of test calledMELISA(which is short for (Memory Lymphocyte Immunostimulation Assay). MELISA uses a small sample of your blood to check for titanium sensitivity. During the assay, your white blood cells are isolated from the rest of your blood, then exposedto titanium. Over several days, your blood sample is evaluated for signs of allergic reaction. MELISA offers far more accurate resultsthattraditional skin patch allergy tests, especially for applications where the metal will come in contact with bone and soft tissues. In fact, in addition to its use in dentistry, it’s also used to test for metal allergies prior to joint replacement surgery, and it’s used in other industries where metal allergies are a concern. The table below shows some of the metal allergies that can be evaluated using MELISA. IMPORTANT: HELM NEJAD STANLEY DOES NOT ADMINISTER THE MELISA TEST AND THE PATIENT MUST CONTACT THE COMPANY IN GERMANY ON THEIR OWN.

Could you be allergic to titanium dental implants? (1)

Chart presents stimulation index of tested metals.

  • Gold - 1
  • Cobalt - 3
  • Chromium - 4
  • Palladdium - 10
  • Titanium - 6
  • Tin - 8
  • Nickel - 27
  • Cadmium - 10
  • Phenyl mercury - 5
  • Inorganic mercury - 12

(Photo Courtesy of MELISA.org)

Could you be allergic to titanium dental implants? (2)

(Video) Dr. Kareem Sobky Talks About Allergies After Metal Implants

First chart presents MELISA reactivity in a 54-yer-old man before and after removal of Ti-based dental implants and screws. Numbers represents stimulation index.

  • Ti: before - 70, after - 1
  • Ni: before - 8, after - 2
  • Pt: before - 6, after - 0.5
  • Cd: before - 3, after - 0
  • In: before - 2.5, after - 0
  • Be: before - 1, after - 0
  • Pd: before - 1, after - 0
  • Au: before - 1, after - 0
  • Cu: before - 0.5, after - 0
  • Pb: before - 0.25, after - 0

Second chart presents MELISA reactivity in a 14-yer-old girl before and after removal of Ti-based brackets. Numbers represents stimulation index.

  • Ti: before - 8.5, after - 1.5
  • Ni: before - 2, after - 1.5
  • Pt: before - 1, after - 1.1
  • Cd: before - 2, after - 1.7
  • In: before - 0.5, after - 0.5
  • Be: before - 1, after - 0.85
  • Pd: before - 2, after - 1.9
  • Au: before - 1, after - 0.8
  • Cu: before - 2, after - 1.8
  • Pb: before - 0.75, after - 0.25

How accurate is MELISA?

MELISA can be far more accurate than skin patch tests because MELISA shows how the metal will react when it comes in contact with blood and tissue inside your body rather than just the surface of the skin. Still, there have been some studies that question the accuracy and reliability of the test.

In one study from 2016, 57% of patients who claimed an allergy to titanium reacted to other metals, including nickel. This is especially concerning since even the purest titanium contains a traceamount of nickel. And that means if you have an allergy to nickel, you may have an allergic reaction to dental implants that use the metal. Nickel allergies are extremely common; in fact, after poison ivy, they’re the most common cause of allergic skin rashes. Moreover, MELISA has not been completely accepted as 100% reliable by the medical or research communities, which means you’re more or less left on your own to decide if you feel confident in the results of your test prior to receiving implants. As a result, many patients -- even those with no known titanium allergies -- opt for other alternatives to replace their missing teeth in order to avoid the possible risks associated with titanium allergic reactions.

Zirconia Dental Implants: An Alternative to Titanium

So what if your test shows youareallergic to titanium? Does that mean you have to forego implants in favor of a denture or bridge? No. For patients who test positive for titanium allergy, zirconiadental implantscould be a good solution. Zirconia is made primarily of ceramic rather than titanium. As a result, you won’t have to worry about allergic reactions. Why aren't zirconiadental implantsused all the time? Well, in part because theylack some of the features of titanium implants, like a two-part design and attachment features that help keep the implant especially stable. As detailed in our earlier blog post, zirconia implants still have their pros and cons, but for patients who are allergic to titanium but still want the benefits of an implant, they can be a good choice.

Bridges: Another Option for Tooth Replacement

Of course, implants are not the only solution for replacing a lost tooth. For decades, people have relied on bridges to literally “bridge” the gap left by a missing tooth, and for many patients, a bridge can be a great option. A traditional bridge (shown below) features one or more artificial teeth or"pontics" supported by the teeth on either side of the gap. Before the bridge is placed, these teeth need toreceive crowns to hold thetooth and allow normal forces on the artificial tooth to be supported by the neighboringteeth. That means a considerable amount of tooth material will need to be removed from these teeth to “make room” for the crowns. Once the material is removed, these teeth are at increased risks of complications such as root canals, fractures, and recurrent decay. However, bridges have a long and successful track record in helping restore function and aesthetics following tooth loss, and they can be a great choice for many patients.

(Video) What is the Truth about Titanium Dental Implant Problems? | Dr. Parsa Zadeh

Could you be allergic to titanium dental implants? (3)

A Maryland bridge features a slightly different design and attachment process that eliminates the need to remove surface material from the healthy neighboring teeth. Instead, the bridge is secured in place with an adhesiveresin to attach the bridge to one or both teeth on either side, often times with little to no tooth removal. This eliminates some of the risks of traditional bridges. Maryland bridges are an especially good option of replacing front teeth in the “aesthetic zone.” However, the bonding application that’s used means these bridges are not nearly asdurable as a traditional bridge, and that means the forces exerted during biting and chewing can lead to fractures ordebondingof the artificial tooth (pontic). These bridges, while an attractive option for some, are really only meant for aesthetic enhancement, and not as a functional replacement for a missing tooth.

Partial Dentures

Another time-tested option for replacing one or more missing teeth, a partial denture is removable and rests on your gums in the gap left by the missing tooth or teeth. Partial dentures are usually less expensive than other options, but many people don’t want a device that’s removable or poses a risk of slipping, nor do they want to have to remove the denture at night while they’re sleeping. What’s more, the partial denture has a rigid metal framework for strength and stabilitywhich unfortunately can often be seen in certain areas and may be intolerable by some patients due to allergy or sensitivity. There are some options for all-plastic dentures, butthey tend not to be as functional as a traditional denture with a metal framework. No matter which option you select, it’s estimated that removable partial dentures haveat most25% of the function of a real tooth, implant, or bridge.

Titanium Allergy: The Bottom Line

Allergic reactions to titanium are very rare, but they are a possibility. Before having an implant procedure, it’s a good idea to consider the MELISA test to check for a titanium allergy so you can avoid the resulting side effects. And if you are allergic to titanium or if you suspect you may be, schedule a visit to discuss your other options that can help you restore your teeth and maintain your healthy-looking smile. Call our office at310-278-0440and schedule a consultation today.

References:

1. Fage et. al.Contact Dermatitis. 2016 Jun;74(6):323-45.

2. Muller et. al.Neuro Endocrinol Lett.2006 Dec;27 Suppl 1:31-5.

(Video) Titanium Dental Implant

(Video) Can I be allergic to dental implants? (Longer explanation) | Learn about 𝙙𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙡 𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙨 reactions

FAQs

How many people are allergic to titanium implants? ›

Titanium allergies are rare, occurring in about 0.6% of the population, according to one study. That means as many as 1.8 million people in the U.S. may be allergic to titanium to some degree. Other studies suggest the allergic reaction or hypersensitivity to titanium could be much higher.

How do you know if you are allergic to titanium implants? ›

Titanium Allergy Symptoms & Tests

Some of the common symptoms of a titanium allergy to a dental implant include hives and bumps in the mouth, dry patches of gum tissue, inflammation of the gums around the implant, and sores or swelling in the oral soft tissues.

Can a person reject titanium implants? ›

The titanium implants will integrate with your jawbone and are unlikely to be rejected unless you are habitually accustomed to following habits that are detrimental to the placements.

Are titanium implants hypoallergenic? ›

Titanium was used as a material for dental implants at a very early stage of the development of dental implants [19], [20]. The high biocompatibility of this metal suggested that titanium was an allergy-free material, and several reports supported the safety of titanium [21], [22], [23], [24].

Can titanium implants make you sick? ›

One of the causes of implant failure can be attributed to allergic reactions to titanium. There have been reports of hypersensitive reactions such as erythema, urticaria, eczema, swelling, pain, necrosis, and bone loss due to titanium dental implants [15, 67, 68].

What happens when body rejects titanium? ›

Like all metals, titanium releases particles and ions through corrosion. These metals ions bind to proteins in the body. For those who react, the body's immune system will attack this new protein/metal structure. This may start an immune reaction.

How do you know if your body is rejecting a dental implant? ›

This is when the body rejects an implant. Signs of rejection include increased pain at the implant site, swelling, fever, and chills. A dental implant placed in the upper jaw may protrude into the sinus cavity. Injury to the area surrounding a dental implant may loosen the implant, resulting in failure.

Can your body reject a dental implant? ›

According to the International Congress of Oral Implantologists it is rare that your body will reject your dental implants. However, this does not mean that your dental implant will not fail. A successful dental implant is one that is placed in healthy bone and is properly cared for after the surgery takes place.

What are the symptoms of titanium poisoning? ›

Titanium toxicity can elicit a number of symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, blurring of vision, respiratory inflammation, lymphedema, and hyperpigmentation of the nails and skin [[12], [13], [14]].

How long does it take your body to reject dental implants? ›

Types of Dental Implant Rejection

The early rejection occurs within the first three to four months after the implant before the jaw bone is completely healed.

When should you not get dental implants? ›

Four Groups of People Who Shouldn't Get Dental Implants
  • Children and Teens. Age is one of the few factors influencing dental implant candidacy outside of a patient's control. ...
  • Smokers and Chewers. ...
  • People Who Don't Take Care of their Teeth. ...
  • The Very Elderly (with some exceptions)
Jan 14, 2014

Is there nickel in titanium dental implants? ›

The titanium used in dental implants is an alloy that incorporates nickel, which will likely trigger an uncomfortable allergic reaction.

How does titanium affect the body? ›

It is not considered a toxic metal but it is a heavy metal and it does have serious negative health effects. Titanium has the ability to affect lung function causing lung diseases such as pleural disease, it can cause chest pain with tightness, breathing difficulties, coughing, irritation of the skin or eyes.

What are the symptoms of a nickel allergy? ›

Symptoms
  • Rash or bumps on the skin.
  • Itching, which may be severe.
  • Redness or changes in skin color.
  • Dry patches of skin that may resemble a burn.
  • Blisters and draining fluid in severe cases.
Aug 3, 2021

How do you test for metal allergy? ›

Patch skin testing is a method of placing small amounts of different substances on the skin for 2 days, and examining the skin for a reaction for several days after. A positive reaction is red, raised, and often itchy.

How do I know if my dental implant is infected? ›

Symptoms of infection include the following:
  1. Red or swollen gums at the site of the implant.
  2. Loose or wobbly implants.
  3. Pus emanating from the area of the implant.
  4. Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
  5. Dull ache or throbbing pain.
  6. Fever.
  7. Visible threads.
  8. Bleeding when brushing around the implant.

Videos

1. Are Dental Implants Safe?
(Ramsey Amin)
2. Is There Any Side Effects of Dental Implants? || Side Effects of Dental Implants EXPLAINED!!
(Dentist@330)
3. Zirconia Vs. Titanium Dental Implants
(DentaVacation)
4. Can one's body reject Dental Implant?- Dr. Sharon Colaco Dias
(Doctors' Circle World's Largest Health Platform)
5. Millions reported problems with dental implants
(AZFamily 3TV and CBS 5 News)
6. Metal Allergy (Hypersensitivity) to implant metals and metal-LTT allergy testing.
(Orthopedic Analysis )
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Merrill Bechtelar CPA

Last Updated: 02/14/2023

Views: 6171

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Merrill Bechtelar CPA

Birthday: 1996-05-19

Address: Apt. 114 873 White Lodge, Libbyfurt, CA 93006

Phone: +5983010455207

Job: Legacy Representative

Hobby: Blacksmithing, Urban exploration, Sudoku, Slacklining, Creative writing, Community, Letterboxing

Introduction: My name is Merrill Bechtelar CPA, I am a clean, agreeable, glorious, magnificent, witty, enchanting, comfortable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.