Titanium tooth implants – know them, love them, get them … or not

Titanium tooth implants have been frequently considered the best option when considering treatment options for replacing one or more missing teeth, at least since some twenty years. Data recorded and compiled by professional oral associations in the United States show that a staggering 69% of adults with ages ranging from 35 to 44 are susceptible of losing at least one permanent tooth due to different causes such as gum disease, poor hygiene resulting in tooth decay or unfortunate mishaps in oral interventions.

There are a lot of advantages of choosing titanium tooth implants rather than a removable denture or using adjacent teeth to anchor a fixed bridge. Both alternatives have disadvantages. A removable denture may slip, making noises “advertising” the fact you don’t have your natural teeth anymore. The process of installing a fixed bridge inherently affects the adjoining teeth, which are susceptible for further damage in the future.

On the contrary, a titanium dental implant is long-term replacement, which is placed without damaging other healthy teeth and which firmly embeds in the jawbone where it is placed through a process called osseointegration. This promotes fewer diet restrictions that denture or fixed bridge patients face, more confidence for the individuals having a dental implant, and overall a better life experience.

Quick fact: A titanium tooth implant is better than any other alternative teeth replacement procedure.

Everything peachy, right? Well…those were the pros. Let’s see about the cons.

In 2013, popular television star Dick Van Dyke, tweeted that his doctors have finally discovered the source of an undiagnosed neurological disorder that has been plaguing him for no less than seven years, with symptoms ranging from insomnia to severe pounding headaches. Several physicians and an extensive range of medical tests, including a spinal tap, have led to nothing conclusive.

Only after removing previously placed titanium tooth implants and observing the disappearing of the symptoms have the “root” problems been discovered.

The mechanism that may results in head-aches in patients such as Van Dyke is the galvanic effect, which occurs when a titanium tooth implant support a crown made by a dissimilar metal, such as gold.  Metallic ions released by normal corrosion, amplified by the contact of the mildly basic saliva create electrical charges, sometimes as high as 100 micro-amps. A single LED requires about 50 micro-amps to light up, for comparison. The electric currents create a neural interference field that have a direct negative effect on the central systems.

Further move, the galvanic effects also drive metal ions from the place of implant through the rest of the body. The ions then have the potential of binding with cell proteins, which may result in an autoimmune response from the defensive mechanisms present in all organisms. This may lead to chronic fatigue system – a symptom reported in cases of titanium allergy and may also potentially lead to full development of auto-immune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Quick fact: The galvanic effect will be presented regardless of the metal, as long as it is contact with your organism – that includes gold teeth crowns for instance.

A more common occurrence is a minor infection or inflammation presented in the area of the implant. It is so common that it acquired its own name - “peri-implantitis”. It is caused primarily by bacteria entering the organism via the space between the gum (gingivae) and the implant emerging from the jawbone. Naturally, this space it is sealed by a fibrous membrane which is unfortunately lost along with the real tooth. The infection by itself it’s not of a much concern for a healthy organism, but it presents the risk of progressing to the bone causing osteomyelitis and other serious systemic consequences.

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