Patients who are considering replacing their missing teeth with dental implants should be extra cautious about the procedure if they are particularly sensitive to allergies. Though rare, it is possible for patients to have allergic reactions to metallic substances that make up dental implants. These reactions can pose significant health threats.
Components of dental implants that can cause allergic reactions
The screws and abutments that make up a dental implant are composed of a single metal or a metal alloy. Dental implants are usually made up of titanium. However, they can contain a variety of different metallic substances. Sometimes, they also include nickel or gold, for example.
How metal from implants invades the body
Any metal will release small particles over time as it corrodes. When this happens in dental implants, loose ions form bonds with proteins found in the body.
While these ions are usually harmless, they can provoke a response in the immune system of allergic individuals. This response is similar to how the body responds to a virus or other foreign substance that the immune system perceives as a threat.
Symptoms of an allergic response to implants
Metal allergies can have life-threatening consequences and lead to a variety of autoimmune conditions. Some patients will experience symptoms like general irritation or fatigue. Other possible responses are dull pain, burning sensations, or skin rashes.
More severe responses include the development of conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Frequency of dental implant allergies
Research studies have shown that the occurrence of dental implant allergies is fairly low. A study carried out by Clinical Oral Implants Research involving 1,500 subjects concluded that the frequency of allergic responses to dental implants was 0.6 percent.
Preventing allergy complications
Any patient who has a history of allergies should be aware of the possibility of allergic responses to implants. However, allergies are especially an issue in patients who have specifically shown allergies to metals in the past.
Allergy testing can allow a patient to discover any metal allergies that could be aggravated by an implant. Blood tests that involve observing how patients' bodies respond to certain substances are among the most common means of determining if a patient is susceptible to certain allergies.
Patients can still have implants even if they show an allergic response to the substances used in the manufacture of implants. Ceramic implants are an alternative to metal implants, and they provide another option to patients who cannot have standard titanium implants because of allergies.