Contemporary dental implants can be traced back to 1952 when it was discovered that titanium implants resulted in successful osseointegration (the process of the implant fusing to the surrounding tissues). The first modern implant was fitted to a human volunteer in 1965. It wasn't until the subsequent decades that implant dentistry became widespread, and there are now people with dental implants who might have had them for decades. If you've had your implant for many years, you will know that you're not supposed to feel its presence, and it should feel just like a natural tooth. So why would your dental implant now start to cause discomfort and irritation?
These days, most dental implants are preceded by a MELISA test (Memory Lymphocyte Immunostimulation Assay). This assesses the patient's likelihood of a sensitivity or allergy to titanium and other forms of metal found in a dental implant. Placement of a titanium implant in a patient with a sensitivity or allergy can create some problems in the years to come. It might be that no MELISA test was performed prior to your implant placement if you received your implant many years ago. It can also be that you've developed a sensitivity or allergy to titanium in the years since you received your implant.
Signs and Symptoms
An adverse reaction to your implant can take many forms. There might be swelling and discomfort around the site of the implant, even though it has long since healed. The site might be noticeably red, and possibly itchy. There can even be hives in your mouth. Other symptoms of an adverse reaction are not found in your mouth, like headaches or insomnia.
Seeking Dental Treatment
If you begin to experience curious symptoms that could be related to your dental implants, you must schedule an appointment with your dentist. A MELISA test might be performed, along with additional tests to determine the cause of your adverse reaction to your implants. It might be that you're no longer a suitable candidate for titanium implants. Your dentist might opt to remove them and replace them with an alternative material, such as a ceramic or zirconia implant. In many cases, the implant can be replaced immediately, generally with some bone grafting to ensure the stability of the new implant.
Although it's unlikely that your implants will begin to cause irritation many years after placement, it's not impossible, and you might be experiencing a sensitivity or allergy to titanium. For more information about your sensitivity to dental implants, contact a local dental office.