Continuing Irritation from Your Tooth Implant? You Might Have a Titanium Sensitivity

Posted on: 28 January 2022

A true allergy to titanium is rare, although a mild sensitivity to the metal is more common (while still being statistically unlikely). Many people go their entire lives without knowing that they have titanium sensitivity. After all, you have to be in ongoing contact with the substance to trigger any reaction. This is why some people may be unaware that they have any sensitivity to the metal until a titanium tooth implant has been fitted.

Lingering Irritation

It's logical that an actual allergy to titanium will be noticed quickly after the implant has been installed. But a titanium sensitivity? Not so much. The symptoms can be indistinguishable from the natural healing process but will linger. The site of the implant might be mildly inflamed, slightly uncomfortable, and even a little itchy. The implant will only irritate surrounding tissues, instead of traumatizing them.

Your Immune System

The titanium implant is triggering an improper response from your macrophages. These are white blood cells that are an integral part of your immune system. They combat bacteria and regulate your body's inflammatory response. Your macrophages essentially don't know what to do with the titanium body of the implant, and instead of being relatively dormant after the implant was fitted, they continue to be noticeably active, which is the irritation you're experiencing.

Titanium Sensitivity

Tooth implants are typically titanium, but they don't have to be. Any unexpected developments after your implant surgery should be reported to your dentist, as they will need to rule out any postoperative infection. But if a titanium sensitivity is found to be the culprit, your implant will need to be removed. You'll need to recover from this process, before a new implant can be placed.

A Ceramic Replacement

This new implant will be made of zirconium oxide, which is a type of ceramic. It's classified as a monolithic ceramic. This means it's pure, as opposed to being an alloy (composed of a dominant compound with other compounds mixed into it). Zirconium oxide is more bioinert than titanium, so it won't trigger any adverse reactions from your body. Your immune response (and the activity of your macrophages) won't be an ongoing concern. The implantation process remains the same, although the cost of the zirconium oxide may be higher than its titanium predecessor. This is partially why titanium is usually the first option for implants. 

Remember to report any suspicious developments to your dentist after you've received a dental implant. Continuing irritation can suggest a titanium sensitivity, which can be remedied by replacing the metal implant with a ceramic implant. Talk to a dentist to get more info about titanium sensitivity.