Are Titanium Dental Implants Safe?

11 February 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


If you're interested in restoring your healthy smile, then you probably considered a set of titanium dental implants. These implants are lauded for their phenomenal strength and longevity, leading them to be quite popular with many dental patients.

However, many have voiced their concerns about titanium dental implants and the impact they'll have on their health and well-being. The following goes in-depth to examine the safety factor of titanium dental implants, as well as some of the potential drawbacks the lookout for.

Problems Associated with Titanium Implants

For most patients, titanium dental implants have proven to be a safe and effective choice for dental restoration. Titanium is a highly durable yet lightweight metal that offers a high degree of biocompatibility with natural bone and tissue, making it ideal for use in surgery procedures that call for implants and prosthetics.

Although wearing titanium dental implants is a worry free experience for most patients, some patients have experienced issues with their implants. Keep in mind that these issues don't cause complete failure of the implant unless they lead to other, more serious periodontal issues:

  • Allergic reactions - Some patients can develop a sensitivity to the titanium metal, resulting in symptoms ranging from skin rashes to general fatigue. Fortunately, titanium allergies are relatively rare among patients. According to a recent study, researchers found that only 4 percent of people exposed to titanium metal were likely to develop allergy symptoms.
  • Oral galvanism – If your saliva becomes acidic or alkaline, it can interact with the metallic structures within your mouth and even produce a small, but noticeable amount of electric current. Under certain circumstances, this could lead to a variety of neurological symptoms ranging from headaches to depression.
  • Oral cancer - Many experts have speculated a connection between titanium dental implants and some forms of oral cancer, although a direct link has never been found. According to the National Institutes of Health, there have only been 18 cases reported where titanium dental implants were suspected of being a leading factor in causing or aggravating oral cancers.

Keep in mind that the above issues stemming from titanium dental implants are relatively rare, making these issues an outlier among satisfied titanium dental implant recipients.

What Could Cause Titanium Implants to Fail?

While titanium dental implants are capable of lasting for decades, there are a few instances where these implants could fail. The most common cause of failure is often poor oral hygiene, similar to the overall cause of most periodontal diseases. Poor tooth cleaning often leads to bacteria buildup, which in turn causes mucositis, a condition where the mucous membrane surrounding the implant becomes inflamed.

Long-term mucositis could lead to peri-implantitis, where the bone structure around the implant erodes and causes the implant to loosen from its formerly anchored position.

Practicing excellent oral hygiene is the key to preventing titanium implant failure. You may want to consult your dentist if you have any questions about caring for your implants.

Considering Alternatives

If you don't feel comfortable with titanium dental implants, you may want to consider metal-free zirconium dental implants. These implants are made from zirconium ceramic, an organic compound that offers a higher level of biocompatibility than titanium. Zirconium lacks the electric and thermal conductivity of titanium, making it a safer choice for those concerned with oral galvanism.

On the other hand, zirconium and other ceramic dental implant options lack the durability of their titanium counterparts, especially when dealing with bruxism and other conditions that could cause tooth fractures and other dental trauma.

Overall, titanium dental implants have proven themselves safe and effective in most instances. Nevertheless, understanding the potential risks associated with titanium and other types of dental implants can go a long way towards preventing these risks.  If you still have concerns about the best material to use for your implants, discuss your concerns with an experienced dentist at a clinic like The Jacksonville Center for Prosthodontics and Implant Dentistry.