In July, a researcher sounded the alarm on dental implants: they were prone to fracture. In fact, an examination of dental implants showed that more than 60% of them had a significant fracture risk.
Should you be worried that your dental implants are going to fracture? No, and here’s why.
Material Science Research
The study, conducted by Israeli researcher Karen Shemtov-Yona, is to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. Dr. Shemtov-Yona is a dentist who is studying material science, and she examined 100 discarded dental implants with a scanning electron microscope. She found that 62 of the implants had mechanical flaws and defects that put them at risk for fracture.
The dental implants were randomly selected from those she had access to and included a number of different makes and models. Some were titanium alloys and others were pure titanium. The pure titanium implants were more likely to have flaws, typically because they weren’t actually pure, and impurities resulted in potential fracture site.
Part of the goal of the study was to make the public aware of this potential risk so that consumers could make informed decisions about their dental care.
Don’t Sweat It
We have to acknowledge the significant of Dr. Shemtov-Yona’s findings. Dental implant fracture is the worst type of dental implant failure. It’s hard to treat and can result in serious injury. But . . . there are many reasons why you shouldn’t be too concerned about this issue.
First, let’s note that none of the examined implants had actually fractured. So, although there were more than 60 implants that had a fracture risk, the number of implants that had actually fractured was 0. Instead, the implants had been removed due to peri-implantitis, a largely preventable but common cause of dental implant failure.
The real risk of dental implant fracture, based on the large study of dental implant failure we’d already talked about, is about 2 out of 1000 implants, or 0.2%.
How do we account for the supposed high fracture risk? That’s easy: scanning electron microscopes can magnify the view by up to 30,000 times, making it very easy to spot tiny flaws that may or may not become significant in the future.
Titanium implants are, obviously, not perfect, but even with their flaws, they are strong enough to take the forces from biting without breaking. Instead, our biggest concerns about your dental implants relate to your body, including its ability to integrate the dental implant and its susceptibility to infection.