Is There a Risk of Corrosion with Dental Implants?
At Plymouth Ann Arbor Oral & Facial Surgery, we are proud to offer dental implants to meet your tooth replacement needs. Dental implants are a highly popular treatment that involves a surgical procedure to place posts into your jaw. The posts then provide the support for your replacement teeth. Your jawbone fuses to the posts in a process called osseointegration, which stabilizes the posts in the jaw. Your new teeth are secured into place with small screws. Dental implants provide numerous significant benefits over traditional treatments, including comfort, ease of care, and stimulating your jawbone to keep it strong and healthy. The posts are most frequently made from titanium, a material that has decades of research behind it. Despite the research, many patients still express some concerns over the treatment, including a concern over the risk of corrosion.
What is Corrosion?
Corrosion is the degradation of a material due to either a chemical or an electrochemical reaction. Corrosion is not an instant process. Instead, it occurs gradually over time. There is an oxide layer present in titanium implants, which is there to protect the posts from corrosion. While it is a protective measure, it is not foolproof. If implants corrode, it is generally an electrochemical reaction that is often referred to as wet corrosion. If it occurs, it is usually due to the contact of saliva with the metal surface. The electrolytes and ions present in saliva react with the metal, which then causes the corrosion to occur. When affected by corrosion, the stability of dental implants is compromised. Their lifespan is shortened, and they may even be subject to total implant failure.
Types of Corrosion
There are two types of corrosion that can affect dental implants. The first, and most common type to affect implants is known as galvanic corrosion. When two or more dissimilar metals come into contact with one another while also exposed to saliva, this creates an electrical current between the metals. Saliva, along with the other fluids present in the gums and bone, become electrolytes that allow this current to flow. Known as a galvanic current, it flows through the saliva and other tissues within your mouth, causing both irritation and corrosion that can ultimately lead to the failure of your implants. The other type of corrosion that can impact dental implants is called stress and pit corrosion. This type of corrosion occurs where the implants and the abutments, or connectors, meet. In some cases, both the implant and the abutment may have microscopic pits in them. When you chew, the forces exerted on both of these components can wear the areas down. This leads to corrosion.
Even though the risk of corrosion is low, it is still a concern. This concern over the risk of corrosion led, in part, to the search for alternative materials. Today, there are zirconia implants. Also called ceramic implants, zirconia implants are the metal-free option. Your jawbone fuses to zirconia posts just like it fuses to titanium. Zirconia does not conduct an electrical current, nor does it release ions into your intraoral tissues. While zirconia will not corrode, and also has several other benefits, it also has some drawbacks as well. We can go over your options during your initial consultation to help you chose the best option for you. While there is a risk of corrosion when it comes to titanium implants, this risk is small. The many benefits offered by dental implants often outweigh the risk of corrosion. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to call Plymouth Ann Arbor Oral & Facial Surgery today at (734) 455-0710.