A Study on the Relationship between Titanium Corrosion and Peri-Implantitis

The sign of gum infection after implant surgery is terrifying for dental surgeons. The most common diagnoses in that situation is Peri-implantitis. The earliest signs of the disease include swelling of the gums, color change of the tissue surrounding the implant, gum bleeding, and gum sensitivity. If left untreated, more severe symptoms develop such as implant mobility and exposure, pain, continual bleeding, and infection secretions.

Since the mouth can serve as a perfect environment for most bacteria, many strains are capable of growing strong, causing prevalent secondary damage. A recent study from the University of Washington Departments of Periodontics and Oral Health Services sought to analyze Peri-implantitis microbiota and it’s secondary effects on surrounding tissue that underwent implant surgery. As strong as titanium dental instruments are, there is still a level of corrosion that occurs with time.  The degree to which dental instruments dissolve or corrode depends on many factors including quality and country of origin.

The researchers wanted to see how the bacteria reacted with the titanium implant. They believed that there was an electrochemical alteration that occurred between the bacteria and the titanium from the dental implant which caused further damage to the tissue. The reaction caused corrosion of the titanium and the dissolute material led to severe Peri-implantitis.

They compared plaque samples from 20 patients with implant derived Peri-implantitis and 20 patients with healthy implants. With the use of an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), the researchers quantified titanium levels tested for bacteria DNA levels. That data was analyzed with the use of Generalized Estimated equations (GEE) to adjust for clustering of implants per sample and group.

In the end, the researchers found greater levels of dissolute titanium in tissue affected by Peri-implantitis and not in the healthy implant tissue. This indicated to the team that there exists and association between titanium dissolution and Peri-implantitis. The results call for a need to further investigate factors that trigger titanium dental instrument dissolution and the role of this corrosion in the Peri-implantitis inflammatory process.

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