When you go to the doctor's office, you fill out forms to make sure that the medications you take won't interact with each other. But do you ever check to see if the dental procedures you undergo can combine safely with other medical needs? Thankfully, dental implants and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) procedures are a safe combination.
Dental Implants and Biocompatibility
A dental implant can be used to replace a single tooth, rebuild multiple teeth or anchor a denture. Over the last century a variety of dental materials, such as zirconia, titanium alloys and polymers, have been developed that are biocompatible, meaning they don't inflame or damage tissue and aren't corroded or worn away by the body.
Implants made of titanium and zirconia are accepted by the body and are able to have healthy bone continuously form around them. The variety of implant options allows patients to have a full set of teeth rather than dentures and bridges.
Why Undergo an MRI?
According to the Mayo Clinic, MRIs can be used to examine a variety of soft tissue and organs. Your doctor might prescribe one to scan for a tumor, check the health of your heart chambers or assess the damage from a stroke. The great advantage of this non-invasive imaging is that MRI scanning does not expose a patient to the radiation that is used in CAT scans and radiographs.
An MRI machine produces strong magnetic fields in a confined area to penetrate tissues. Images of the brain, heart or other area are then created by a computer program.
Metals, Dental Implants and MRI Scans
Because the MRI machine is essentially a big, powerful magnet, the biggest safety concern is removing all ferromagnetic metal objects from the imaging area. The magnet is so strong it can pull oxygen tanks, wheelchairs and any metal device implanted in the body, warns the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
The medical professional who oversees your MRI will ask for a comprehensive medical history, especially notes on any implants you may have, before you undergo any procedure. Radiological Society of North America provides a comprehensive list of metal components that doctors should check for prior to administering an MRI, from internal devices like pacemakers and cochlear implants to cosmetic items like piercings, jewelry and even metallic nail polish.
The titanium, titanium alloy and zirconia used in most dental implants are not ferromagnetic metals, and it is perfectly safe to enter an MRI with them in your mouth. Even so, it's best to alert your doctor that you have dental implants if you need an MRI. Metal objects in the body can still interfere with imaging even if there is a slim chance that they will injure you, notes the Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences. You should also tell your doctor about any metal fillings, crowns, braces or dentures.
Dental implants and MRI technologies continue to advance, which is good news for patients who can benefit from both! Since most implants are MRI-safe, you don't have to worry that the dental treatment you're receiving now will limit your options for medical imaging later.