Is There a Risk of Corrosion with Dental Implants?
While a recent addition to tooth replacement options, dental implants have quickly become a very popular treatment. Dental implants are unique, using small titanium posts that are surgically placed into your jawbone. Your bone gradually fuses to the posts, stabilizing them within your jaw and enabling them to provide secure support for your replacement teeth. At Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center, we provide dental implants to meet a variety of different needs. While popular, we still receive many questions and concerns about dental implants, including if there is a risk of corrosion.
What is Corrosion?
Corrosion is a term that means the degradation of a material as a result of a chemical or electrochemical reaction. It is a gradual process that occurs over time.
Titanium implants are made with an oxide layer, which is designed to help prevent corrosion from occurring. However, this protection is not failproof, and corrosion may occur. Corrosion of dental implants is often a type of wet corrosion due to an electrochemical reaction in your mouth. This occurs when the saliva comes into contact with the metal surface. Saliva contains electrolytes and ions which, when they come into contact with the metal, cause the reaction to occur. Corrosion affects the stability of your dental implants, which can ultimately lead to implant failure.
Different Types of Corrosion
Dental implants can be affected by one of two different types of corrosion. The most common type of corrosion is called galvanic corrosion. This type of corrosion occurs when two or more dissimilar metals come into contact with one another. This occurs through the saliva, which creates an electrical current between the different metals. This current is called a galvanic current. The current flows through your saliva and the tissues in your mouth, causing both irritations as well as corrosion.
The other type of corrosion is called stress and pit corrosion. This corrosion occurs when the implant posts and the abutments, or connectors that help to stabilize your replacement teeth, come into contact with one another. The implant and the abutment may develop microscopic pits, and the constant biting and chewing forces can cause these components to wear down faster in the affected areas.
Avoiding the Risk of Corrosion with Alternative Materials
The risk of corrosion with titanium dental implants is very low. It is, however, still a concern for many patients. This concern has, in part, fueled the search for alternative implant materials, which led to the development of zirconia implants. Called ceramic implants, zirconia implants provide a metal-free alternative to titanium. Your bone fuses to zirconia posts just as it fuses to titanium, allowing the posts to provide secure stability for replacement teeth. The material does not conduct electrical currents, nor does it release ions into the tissues in your mouth. While zirconia does not corrode and it has its own set of unique benefits, there are also a few drawbacks with this material. During your initial consultation, we will go over the benefits and drawbacks to your implant options to help you find a solution that will provide you with the best possible outcome.
While there is a risk of corrosion with titanium dental implants, the risk is very small. Even so, the benefits that dental implants often provide far outweigh this risk. For more information about dental implants, and if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to call Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center at 925-290-7727 today.