Problems With Titanium Implants

Continued from Zirconium Dental Implants

ProAny implant in the body is a foreign substance and has the potential to provoke immune and autoimmune reactions. And by definition, any dental implant breaches the surface of the mouth which is heavily populated with microbes and may also allow the ingress of pathogenic species directly into the alveolar bone and body.

In addition, all implants also form a biofilm whereby microbes grow on the implant surface under a protective covering and these biofilm infections are thought to account for 80% of human infections.

Particular considerations in relation to the use of titanium implants include:

Allergic reactions Between 0.5% and 1% of all patients display allergic reactions to titanium implants. This figure may rise with continued exposure as titanium leaches from the implant provoking an immune response. Recent studies feature a growing number of reports of adverse reactions to all kinds of titanium implants and are a real cause for concern.

Galvanic and electrical activity Typically, titanium dental implants have several metal components which screw together with the crown or bridge being screwed or cemented into place on top. This allows for angulation changes between the angle at which the (possibly receded) bone permits placement of the implant and the angle required for function and aesthetics of the crown or bridge. The presence of any metal in the mouth and particularly the combination of metals that often occurs in routine dentistry in the presence of electrolytic saliva generates a voltage. This electrical activity causes the autonomic nervous system (ANS) to become stressed and often manifests as some kind of impairment that may only be detected years later. In addition, the currents produced are frequently much greater than those employed by the nervous system and may disrupt neuron signalling.

Metallosis This term refers to the release of metal ions from the implant into the surrounding tissues (regional stress) and the associated energy meridian (meridian stress). This usually affects the soft tissues most, however titanium ions have been found in the blood, jaw, lymphatic nodes, lung and spleen. In animal experiments, titanium ions have been found in an area of approximately 3 cm surrounding the implant. Sometimes the presence of titanium in the tissues may result in pain in the region or the implant area. One animal study showed pathological changes in the spleen within just 72 hours of exposure to titanium.

Formation of titanium oxides Titanium oxides form on the surface of the titanium implants and this is thought to have several effects. First, these titanium oxides interfere with phagocytosis (immune cells which engulf foreign particles) and osteoblast function (the cells which synthesise bone). These effects are thought to result in the prevention of proper in-growth and approximation of bone to the implant. These metal oxides also cause free radical damage in the region.

Calcium/titanium interactions In addition to inhibition of osteoblast function it appears that the body may ‘mistake’ titanium ions (Ti2+) for calcium ions (Ca2+) which carry the same charge and are similar having approximately the same atomic weight and size. This results in the tissues surrounding the implant becoming calcium deficient.

Titanium and fluorine Any exposure to the highly reactive halogen, fluorine, either through the water supply or toothpaste causes a reaction between the fluorine and titanium which amplifies the toxic effects of fluorine. For more on this topic refer to the article The Health Risks of Fluoride.

Blockage of meridian flows Acupuncturists use metal needles inserted temporarily at strategic points on acupuncture meridians to redistribute the body’s energies. The permanent insertion of a metal implant on a meridian (all the teeth or sockets have energy meridians flowing through them) will cause unintended blockage or redirection of energy flows. The consequences for each individual will differ depending upon their general constitution and which meridian(s) is/are affected. For more information about meridians please refer to the articles Acupuncture Meridians: The Proof and Meridians Reference.

Electromagnetic antennae Reports from the use of cephalic titanium implants and some dentists suggest that titanium implants act as antennae for electromagnetic radiation. Each metal has an oscillation which varies between 2 and 5 gigahertz which can resonate with radio waves and magnetic fields of the same frequency. The antennae used in cell phones are frequently made of titanium because of their ability to resonate with the near-microwave radiation used in mobile phone transmissions. This too may put the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and endocrine systems into a long-term stress state causing metabolic disorders, disrupting blood flow and nerve conduction, and may particularly cause insomnia.

Lymphocyte transformation This is where either continuous or a second exposure to an antigen causes lymphocytes to transform, increasing in size, proliferating and becoming blastic cells.

Temperature conduction Unlike teeth, titanium transmits heat from foods and drinks to the bone and surrounding tissues and this may cause problems with osseointegration.

Gum aesthetics A prime consideration in the aesthetic result achieved with implant restorations is the aesthetics of the gums or so called ‘red aesthetics’. With titanium implants the metal can shine through the bone and gum in front teeth producing a dark shadow and with any gum recession the metal implant can become exposed which can be very unsightly and hard to remedy. Also, as many titanium implants are buried while bony healing takes place and are later uncovered and restored there can be loss of tissue in general and the papillae in particular (the gingival crests between the teeth) which can produce ugly black triangles between the teeth when restored.

Cytotoxicity Titanium is cytotoxic with smaller particles proving more toxic than larger ones. This can lead to induced cell death (apoptosis) and also to an increase in the level of tumour suppressor proteins. In addition, increases in certain interleukins have been observed in orthopaedic patients with titanium hip prostheses. Interleukins are a group of signalling molecules deployed by the immune system which control white blood cell activity. Dr Thomas Rau, the Director of the Paracelsus Clinic has concluded that in their experience 15% of all those with titanium dental implants will go on to develop auto-immune diseases within 2-3 years of implant placement.

DNA damage Several studies suggest that titanium implants cause DNA damage or upregulation of a number of genes compared to bony healing. One study found that the genetic mutations induced by exposure to particulate titanium were comparable to those found with exposure to the heavy metals, cadmium and nickel, and to low-dose radiation.

Bony healing A recognised issue with titanium implants is that there can be early bone resorption shortly after implant placement.

Finally, there is also a danger to dentists, chair-side and laboratory staff who inhale titanium particles whilst working with this material.

Continued in The Advantages of Zirconia Implants

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