When it comes to replacing teeth with dental implants, we opt for biocompatible ceramic instead of the usual titanium. Now new research offers even more support for this choice.
One of the biggest risks with implants is the potential for peri-implantitis. This condition is marked by inflammation and bone loss around a failing implant. It’s not something to be taken lightly. According to implant expert Dr. Stephen Jacobs, studies suggest that one-third of patients will be infected.
And according to a new study in the Journal of Periodontology, titanium may elevate the risk.
Researchers took plaque samples from 20 implants with peri-implantitis and 20 without, coming from 30 total patients. Then they looked for evidence of titanium. Why?
Increasing preclinical data suggest that peri-implantitis microbiota not only triggers an inflammatory immune response but also causes electrochemical alterations of the titanium surfaces, i.e., corrosion, that aggravate this inflammatory response.
That is, the bacteria causing the infection also corrode the titanium, and that makes the inflammation worse.
Thus, it was hypothesized that there is an association between dissolution of titanium from dental implants, which suggests corrosion, and peri-implantitis in humans.
And this is indeed what they found.
Greater levels of dissolved titanium were detected in submucosal plaque around implants with peri-implantitis compared with healthy implants, indicating an association between titanium dissolution and peri-implantitis.
Other studies have looked at other triggers for corrosion. According to research in the Dental Materials Journal, fluoride appears to have a significant impact on the dissolution of titanium.
Although titanium is well known for its superior corrosion resistance, it is not strongly resistant to corrosion caused by fluoride.
Hydrogen peroxide was also found to break down some titanium alloys. Peroxide is commonly used to bleach teeth and so appears in a good number of oral hygiene products and is often seen as an ingredient in natural DIY home care recipes.
Yet other research showed that ultrasonic scaling – deep cleaning – released titanium and thus increased inflammation. More, that inflammation triggered bone loss, which the study authors suggest ”is unlikely to be reversible.”
We’ll stick with ceramic.
For even more on corrosion, check out this excellent article by implant specialist Dr. Sammy Noumbissi.