Titanium dental implants are a relatively safe option for replacing damaged or missing teeth. They are secure, strong, highly successful, cheaper than other implants, and they prevent bone loss. Yet, they can also have some potential risks, including titanium allergies, implant rejection, and poor appearance.
What are Titanium Dental Implants?
Titanium dental implants were introduced in 1965, consisting of three parts: the post, the abutment screw, and the crown.
The post is a piece that is implanted into the patient’s jawbone. Over time, the bone fuses to the implant making it permanently secured.
The abutment screw attaches at the top of the post and is used to connect the post to the crown.
The crown is the final piece of the titanium dental implant, and it is the piece that resembles a natural tooth. The crown is attached to the abutment screw using dental cement or another screw located inside of the crown.
When are Titanium Dental Implants Used?
Titanium dental implants are used when a patient has a missing, broken, or damaged tooth that needs to be replaced. They can also replace a severely crooked tooth when braces are not an option. In addition, titanium dental implants can be used to replace several missing teeth.
Benefits of Titanium Dental Implants
Permanence and Security
When titanium dental implants are inserted into the mouth, they undergo osseointegration. Osseointegration is when a human bone bonds itself with a metal surface (the implant).
This is important for dental implants because they will be secured without moving around or coming out.
Titanium dental implants are long-lasting due to the strength of titanium metal. Titanium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any other metal, making it the perfect material for dental implants.
In addition, titanium dental implants are made of titanium alloy, which includes other metals such as aluminum and vanadium. These metals further strengthen the titanium, making dental implants even more durable.
High Success Rate
Titanium implants have a high success rate. One study involving 511 titanium dental implants found that these implants were successful in 97% of the patients. They also found that 98.8% of the implants were still successful 10 years after they were implanted.
Other implants have not been around long enough to collect data on success rates and longevity.
Prevention of Bone Loss
When a tooth falls out, the bone under the missing tooth no longer receives stimulation from normal tooth movement. Without that stimulation, the bone begins to recede. This bone loss continues over time, leading to shortening of the face, chewing difficulties, speaking difficulties, and gum loss.
Titanium dental implants prevent this process from continuing by replacing the tooth with a titanium post that continues to stimulate the bone.
Cheaper than Other Dental Implants
Dental implants can be costly. However, titanium dental implants are cheaper than implants made from zirconia. Zirconia costs more to manufacture and therefore costs the dentist more to purchase. Titanium is more affordable for the dentist to acquire, so it is a less expensive option for you.
Potential Risks and Disadvantages of Titanium Dental Implants
Titanium dental implants have several side effects and limitations, including the following:
Risk of Allergy
Unfortunately, all kinds of allergies are increasing in prevalence, including allergies to metals such as titanium. If a patient has a titanium allergy, the implant will likely be rejected, and they may experience significant pain and irritation.
On the other hand, while allergies are becoming more prevalent, titanium allergies are still very uncommon. Most people have no problems with titanium materials, but this is something to discuss with your doctor before committing to titanium dental implants.
Chance of Infection
All surgeries invite the possibility of infection. After the implant is put in place, the area around the implant is weakened and more susceptible to the bacteria that naturally exist in the mouth and bacteria from foods and drinks you consume. This form of infection is known as peri-implantitis.
You can prevent infection of the implant site by properly cleaning your teeth and the implant often. Remember that even with regular cleaning, infection is a potential complication that can occur.
Potential for Poor Appearance
While titanium dental implants can look better than other tooth-replacement solutions, the appearance depends on whether or not the gum tissue grows around the implant.
Some patients may have gum disease, or their gum tissue might refuse to grow around the implant. This leaves the metal base of the implant visible, which can look unnatural and less attractive.
Dental implants tend to be very costly. Dentures, on the other hand, are a more budget-friendly option for tooth replacement, though there are several downsides to dentures. Dentures tend to feel more unnatural, require more maintenance, need to be replaced more often, and don’t prevent bone loss.
While titanium dental implants do have a high success rate, there is always the possibility that the implant will be rejected. The leading causes of implantation rejection for titanium implants include the following:
- Poor care for the dental implant
- Medical conditions that affect healing speed
- Gum disease
- Bone loss in the jawbone
Implantation rejection for this type of implant is rare, but you should still be aware of the possibility of rejection and take care to prevent failure.
How long do titanium dental implants last?
Titanium dental implants are chosen as a permanent dental solution primarily because of their strength. They are designed to last a lifetime. They don’t need to be refixed or replaced. However, the crown or bridge placed on them must be replaced every few years. In some cases, though, you may need to remove the implant. For example, if you have an infection around your implant that damages your nerves or makes the implant loose.
Are titanium dental implants rust-resistant?
Titanium, in its pure condition, is not corrosive. In addition, titanium dental implants are made with an oxide layer to make them anti-corrosive. But once released into the oral environment, things may change. That is, they may rust years later. Even if they do not rust, they may still need to be removed if a patient develops hypersensitivity to them.
How do titanium dental implants cause joint pain?
Titanium is a strong metal, but it still can release metallic particles to the adjacent bone structure of your mouth. These particles may cause inflammation in your mouth over time. The inflammation may surface as joint pain in some patients, while others may suffer from neck pain or mild stiffness in their shoulders.
Can the titanium implant surface be altered during the insertion process?
The implant insertion process can leave an unhelpful impact on the implant’s surface. The process advances through continuous friction between the bone and the implant surface. In some spots, the friction may be higher than in other spots, thus altering the surface more. This situation can compel the titanium implant to release its particles into the bone, thus contributing to peri-implantitis.
What is an alternative to titanium dental implants?
Zirconia implants are an excellent alternative to titanium dental implants. Zirconia implants are biocompatible. They offer a more aesthetic solution than titanium implants. But they are proven to be a long-term solution. They are more brittle than titanium implants. They may surrender to a pressure that titanium implants can resist. However, they are designed to last up to 20 years with proper oral care.
Titanium dental implants are safe, effective, long-lasting, and comparatively less expensive than other dental implants. They have some potential side effects, but they are rare and unlikely to occur.
- BioMed Research International
- The EPMA Journal
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences
- Clinical Implant Dentistry and Related Research
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