Dental implants are one of the most common ways to restore a missing tooth. They offer great functional and aesthetic benefits and thus increase patients’ quality of life.
Most dental implants are made of titanium. Some people are already familiar with this material for medical or non-medical reasons, while it is still underexplored for many others. This article sheds light on titanium dental implants. You can read and learn some of the most important facts about this popular technology and practice in this post.
What Are Titanium Dental Implants?
Titanium implants are implants made of titanium, and they are directly implanted in the jawbone. Unlike subperiosteal implants, titanium implants are endosteal anchors that support the bone structure and, of course, the crown attached to it. Numerous companies and brands manufacture titanium implants. You can find Nobel Biocare, Hiossen, Zimmer, or Strauman titanium implants on the market.
Why Is Titanium Used For Dental Implants?
Actually, the use of titanium is not limited to dentistry. Doctors and medical technicians of various fields make use of titanium for a wide range of functions, such as spinal and bone fixators, artificial joints, bone conduction hearing aids, etc. Titanium is a common material used in medicine and dentistry due to its strong and safe nature. Dental implants are no exception.
Types Of Titanium Implants
The types of titanium generally refer to its alloys. The alloys can be listed as follows:
- Grade 1
- Grade 2
- Grade 3
- Grade 4
- Grade 5 (Ti-6Al-4V)
Grades 1 to 4 are pure titanium, and they are commercially pure and unalloyed. The amount of iron and oxygen determines the grades 1 to 4. Grade 5 is considered to be the most suitable type of titanium with which to make dental implants because it can be alloyed with other elements like aluminum and vanadium.
How Do Titanium Dental Implants Osseointegrate Into Bone?
Osseointegration is the process of artificial implants getting direct functional and structural connections with the living bone. As the name suggests, it is the integration of the implant into the body.
Titanium is the best material for osseointegration. Once the implant post is screwed into the jawbone, the bone loses some of its mass, and after a while, new bone cells form again around the implant. The implant is surrounded by new bone cells. The bone builds a strong foundation and holds the implant post even stronger.
During the osseointegration period, the patients should avoid any kind of biting or chewing that may cause substantial pressure on the implant.
What Makes Titanium So Successful As A Dental Implant Material?
According to a study published in Materials (Basel) in 2012, titanium and titanium alloys are the materials of choice in dentistry for a few reasons. First, titanium implants are biocompatible, which means they don’t damage living tissues or bones and are not toxic. Secondly, they are resistant to corrosion. Patients can use dental implants for a lifetime as long as they take care of their oral hygiene. Finally, titanium implants offer excellent mechanical properties. They are not heavy but very strong, and thus they integrate well with the bone and gum tissue at the same time.
What Are The Benefits Of Titanium Dental Implants?
Titanium implants come with many benefits. Here are the most important ones to know:
Chewing certain foods can cause great pressure on the teeth, and on the implants as well. However, titanium implants defend well against repeated or constant pressure. In addition to the resistance to fractures and heavy pressure, titanium implants are also distinctive for their flexural strength, which enables them to bear excessive forces by bending.
Titanium implants are a safe alternative to other metallic dental implants due to their compatibility with the human body. Once a titanium implant is placed in the jawbone, it bonds with the bone tissue and becomes a supporting base for the surrounding bone tissue as well as the attached abutment and crown.
Moreover, patients don’t suffer from allergic reactions when they get titanium implants, as they are hypoallergic. Therefore, many people who are sensitive to metals opt for non-metallic dental implants like titanium.
High Success Rate
Titanium dental implants contribute significantly to the overall success rate of dental implants. Since the 1970s, dental professionals have employed titanium in their implant treatments due to their superior properties and patients have benefitted from titanium implants. The success rate has exceeded 95% over the years.
Patients who get dental implants expect to use them for a lifetime, and titanium implants have this potential. Normally, implants can last for about 20 years, but if the patient follows regular check-ups, maintains decent dental hygiene, and adjust his/her lifestyle, titanium implants can last for a lifetime, as they are highly durable.
Once the patient loses a tooth, the supporting jawbone starts to get smaller and weaker. The deterioration can even lead to further functioning and aesthetic problems. However, the deterioration can be halted by a dental implant treatment that uses titanium implants. Titanium dental implants can substitute for the roots and bond with the surrounding bone structure. They can thereby even reverse the bone loss.
Titanium Implant Procedure
The implant treatment may require some prerequisite treatments. Once the patient is ready for dental implant surgery, the steps will follow:
- First, a post is placed in the jawbone. It is a screw-like titanium root.
- Secondly, the dentist puts in a titanium abutment, a connecting element that is smaller than the post. This element functions as the base for the crown.
- Finally, the dentist attaches the crown to the abutment. This crown looks like other teeth and functions as a cover for the inner parts.
Ceramic Vs Titanium Dental Implants
Patients who are concerned about the visibility of the implant due to having thin gum tissue or gum recession prefer ceramic dental implants (zirconia) to titanium. Since ceramic dental implants are white, they can be more aesthetically pleasing when visible.
Ceramic implants also attract and retain fewer bacteria compared to titanium implants. This means potentially less inflammation. Moreover, the osseointegration rates of ceramic dental implants are similar to that of titanium.
On the other hand, ceramic implants are not used as widely as titanium implants. The clinical indications are therefore limited. Also, the manufacturing of ceramic implants can greatly impact the quality and price. For this reason, patients should thoroughly discuss their options with dental professionals.
What Are The Side Effects Of Titanium Implants?
Titanium implants are safe and effective. They have only rare side effects; for example, a case study published in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry in 2008 reported facial eczema.
What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Titanium Implants?
The long-term effects of titanium on the body have been of interest to the researchers. The excellent survival rate, soft tissue condition, and bone response even after 9-12 years have already been reported by a study published in the Journal of Oral Implantology in 2015. However, there are other studies reporting rare negative findings, such as one published in the International Journal of Dentistry in 2019. That study showed that there might be rare tissue reactions, such as yellow nail syndrome.
How Do You Know If Your Body Is Rejecting Titanium?
Though it is rare, the body might reject titanium. The following are the reported symptoms of titanium reactions in the body:
- Skin redness (erythema)
- Hives on the gum and outer skin (urticaria)
- Itchy inflammation on the skin (eczema)
- Pain or swelling
- Death of tissue around the implant area (necrosis)
- Toxic reactions like yellow nail syndrome
- Bone loss
You should immediately see your dentist if you experience any of these reactions.
FAQs About Titanium Dental Implants
Titanium dental implants have been used for a long time, but there may still be some points to clarify for those who are not at all familiar with them. Here are some of the most common questions and answers about titanium dental implants.
How Much Does A Titanium Dental Implant Cost?
The cost of a titanium tooth implant can vary between $2,000 and $6,000. The price can go higher depending on the prerequisite treatments.
How Long Do Titanium Dental Implants Last?
Titanium implants are well known for their durability and biocompatibility. They are meant to last a lifetime, assuming that patients maintain decent oral care.
Will Titanium Dental Implants Trigger Airport Security?
Titanium implants will rarely trigger security alarms at an airport.
Do Titanium Dental Implants Set Off Metal Detectors?
Titanium implants will not set off most metal detectors.
Can You Have An MRI If You Have Titanium Dental Implants?
Yes, you can. According to a study published in the Archive of Plastic Surgery in 2019, titanium is not affected by MRIs, and it is safe to conduct MRIs on people with titanium implants.