Dear Dr. Hall,
I completely love your web site and enjoy reading so much of the wisdom you pass on to worried people.
I am in the UK and want to ask your opinion. I am 61 so an old bird now however, I have always tried to look after my teeth. Over the past few years I have lost the teeth at the farthest back on both sides. I would love to think that if I managed to get a nest egg, I could have implants to make my teeth whole again. However, I have the severest metal allergy I think possibly doctors have ever encountered. I am proven allergic to nickel, cobalt, and a flutter to mercury. I cannot wear jeans, sandals with buckles and have to avoid all clothing with any form of metalised thread or adornments. Therefore, I know that implants may be a problem. Can you please advise me is there anything on the market whereby posts are made of some material which is not metal based. If there was I could perhaps start saving for my two implants and when I am really old, not fly into a panic when I lose a front tooth. I would be so grateful for your advice. Sorry to have gone on.
Jane from Essex, UK
(see Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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Yes, there is a good solution for you. You actually have a couple of choices.
First, nickel allergies are not all that uncommon, and many people have problems with cobalt. That shouldn’t scare you away from a titanium dental implant. I advise avoiding nickel in particular in any dental restorations or appliances because there are so many people with sensitivities to it. When you say you have a “flutter to mercury,” I’m not sure what that means, but it shouldn’t be an issue with dental implants because practically all of them are pure titanium and titanium is an extremely biocompatible material. If you’re uneasy about it, it shouldn’t be difficult to get an allergist to test you for titanium allergy.
I wouldn’t assume that because you are allergic to some metals, even if those allergies are severe, that you can’t have any contact with metals. After all, there are metals known as minerals that are essential to our diet–iron, zinc, and calcium are all metals.
But if you’re even uneasy about titanium, there are dental implants that are made out of zirconia, a super-strong ceramic. This is the only metal-free dental implant I’m aware of. It might take some work to find a dentist who will place zirconia implants, but there are some.
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About David A. Hall
Dr. David A. Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does advanced internet marketing for dentists.