Autoimmune diseases and metal implants and devices (2022)

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Medical and dental implants and devices containing metal have been associated with autoimmune disease.

In the US, estimates of people afflicted by these debilitating health conditions range from 14.7 million to 50 million. It is important to note that the number of people suffering from autoimmune disease is increasing, and the use of medical and dental implants and devices containing metal is likewise increasing.

Autoimmune diseases associated with metal in medical and dental implants and devices

While numerous health conditions have been related to the presence of metals in the body, scientific research has clearly shown that autoimmune disease can be associated with metals used in dentistry and medicine, including metals in medical and dental implants, devices, and adjuvants (substances added to vaccines such as aluminum and mercury). Several of the autoimmune diseases studied for their relation to metal in medical and dental implants, devices, and adjuvants include the following:

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
(Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
Autoimmune ThyroiditisChronic Fatigue Syndrome
(Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)
Crohn’s DiseaseDiabetes (Type 1 Mellitis)Fibromyalgia
Gulf War SyndromeLupus
(Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)
Macrophagic Myofasciitis
Multiple SclerosisOral Lichen PlanusRheumatoid Arthritis

Sources of metal exposure from medical and dental implants and devices related to autoimmune disease

Some metals are recognized as essential to human life and serve important roles within the human body. However, the beneficial effects of trace elements are based on safe and adequate intake levels, with too little resulting in deficiencies and too much resulting in toxicities.

Other metals used as components in medical and dental implants, devices, and adjuvants have no established function in the human body. In addition to aluminum, which is both a neurotoxin and an immune stimulator, these include gold, mercury, nickel, palladium, platinum, silver, and titanium. Mercury is recognized as being toxic to humans even in low doses, and researchers have identified chromium, cobalt, copper, gallium, gold, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, platinum, silver, tin, vanadium, and zinc (among others) as metals of concern due to residential and occupational exposure.

Thus, medical and dental implants and devices placed directly into the human body merit significant consideration when evaluating the impact of metal exposure levels, especially in susceptible populations.

Click here to see a chart of metals used in dentistry and medicine.

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In some genetically susceptible individuals, metals can trigger allergies, and recent studies and reports tend to agree that metal allergies are on the rise. Clinical screening for metal allergy has been recommended, but the importance of patients reporting reactions to metals to their doctors has also been emphasized in the scientific literature.

In addition to reporting any rashes from jewelry, watches, or other metal exposures, it is essential for each patient to recognize the gamut of symptoms that can be related to the presence of a metallic medical or dental implant or device in their body, such as the development of an autoimmune disease. It is also vital for patients to remember that sensitization to metal can develop years after a medical or dental implant or device has been placed and that adverse effects can occur with or without the sign of a rash or eruption on the skin or in the mouth.

Removal of medical and dental implants and devices containing metal and potential recovery from autoimmune disease

Removal of medical and dental implants and devices that contain metal is an obvious course of action when adverse effects occur. Indeed, the scientific literature is abundant with studies and cases of individuals improving or recovering from autoimmune disease usually within a year or two after removal of the offending metal. In addition to metal-containing dental implants and devices, examples of materials containing metal removed include the copper IUD, nickel tubal ligation clips, and titanium screws and skull plates.

Some of health conditions that improved (or from which patients even recovered) after removal of metal medical and dental implants and devices include a variant of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) known as progressive muscular atrophy, autoimmune thyroiditis, chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, oral lichen planus, Sjögren’s syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Click here to see a table of some of the research documenting improvement in an array of autoimmune diseases upon metal implant and/or device removal.

Autoimmune diseases and metal implants and devices (1)

The late Vera Stejskal, PhD, studied the link between autoimmune disease and metals in medical and dental implants and devices. Her life’s work, which chronicled cases of recovery after safe removal of medical and dental implants and devices containing metal, is featured in this article.

In 1994, Dr. Vera Stejskal introduced the MELISA test, an alternative to patch testing for allergies designed to test for type IV delayed hypersensitivity to metals, including sensitivity to mercury. Much of Dr. Stejskal’s work involved using the testing to help diagnose patients with reactions to metals, thus facilitating the decision to have the medical and dental implants and devices containing metal safely removed and replaced with safer alternatives, and then, recording the health outcomes, the majority of which have involved significant improvement. Dr. Stejskal had a number of research articles published that included the science behind her work and the health improvements experienced by many of the patients.

In her research, Dr. Stejskal further warned about removing metal-containing medical and dental implants and devices safely. This is because an unsafe removal process of metal implants can cause serious injury (and even death) to the patient, in addition to the possibility of increased metal exposure.

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Based on scientific research, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) has developed recommendations known as the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART) to assist in mitigating the potential negative outcomes of mercury exposure during amalgam removal. The IAOMT also offers education about alternatives to amalgam fillings so that patients can opt for a more “biocompatible” replacement, such as metal-free, ceramic options.

It is important to note that while many patients improve or even recover from autoimmune disease after the removal of a metal medical and dental implant or device, there are some who do not. One obvious reason for this is if the patient is still being exposed to the metal or a different sensitizer through another implant, device, adjuvant, or other source. Additional impediments in achieving improved health can include the presence of another illness and/or allergy, the need to eradicate Heliobacter pylori, exposure to certain pesticides, solvents, molds, and foods, hormonal imbalances, stress, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and countless other factors.

For all these reasons and more, it is imperative for patients battling autoimmune disease to work with their doctors and other healthcare professionals so that toxins and allergens such as metal medical and dental implants and devices are kept out of their bodies and healthier, safer options are put in to replace them.

For more information about the research of Dr. Vera Stejskal

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theSMARTchoice2020-07-31T17:43:05+00:00April 6th, 2018|Categories: Resources|Tags: Autoimmune diseases, Dr. Vera Stejskal, MELISA, metal implants|

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FAQs

Can metal implants cause autoimmune disease? ›

Some research suggests that metal medical and dental implants may cause an autoimmune reaction in people with metal allergies and other genetic predispositions. Some of the diseases researched in connection to metal devices include: Multiple sclerosis. Systemic lupus erythematosus (Lupus).

Can titanium cause autoimmune disease? ›

Multiple investigators have found that titanium implants can induce inflammation in the surrounding tissue over time, leading to the expression of certain mediators known to cause local and systemic health problems. While acute disease is unavoidable, chronic diseases (cancer, autoimmune diseases, etc.)

Do metal implants cause inflammation? ›

Metal-on-metal hip implants can cause inflammation of the joint lining (synovitis) long before symptoms appear, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to identify this inflammation, according to a new study by researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Can people with autoimmune disease get dental implants? ›

Patients with an autoimmune disease face a higher risk of dental implant failure. These conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, cause the body to heal at a slower pace. This can slow the fusing process of the implant and bone and lead to further complications. 5.

How do you know if your body is rejecting metal? ›

Your body treats the offending substance like a foreign invader and quickly mounts an immune response. The result: redness, itching, swelling or a rash, with skin blistering or scaling at the site. The symptoms of a metal allergy range from mild to severe.

How do you know if your body is rejecting a metal implant? ›

The clinical presentation of patients with metal implant reactions is often nonspecific. Patients can present with localized dermatitis or rashes but also with systemic eczematous dermatitis. Swelling, pain, draining sinuses, and inflammation at the implant site may mimic infection.

How do you know if your body is rejecting titanium? ›

Seminal studies cited by the International Journal of Implant Dentistry report that titanium allergy symptoms include: Erythema (skin redness, in this case, in the tissues around the implant) Urticaria (hives that may be seen on the skin or gum surface) Eczema (itchy inflammation of the skin or gum tissue)

What are the side effects of having titanium in your body? ›

There have been reports of hypersensitive reactions such as erythema, urticaria, eczema, swelling, pain, necrosis, and bone loss due to titanium dental implants [15, 67, 68].

Are titanium implants toxic? ›

It is not considered a toxic metal but it is a heavy metal and it does have serious negative health effects. Titanium has the ability to affect lung function causing lung diseases such as pleural disease, it can cause chest pain with tightness, breathing difficulties, coughing, irritation of the skin or eyes.

Can your body reject metal implants? ›

'Over time their body becomes sensitised to react to it and so when it comes to later in life and needing an implant — many of which contain nickel or metals that the body's immune system "sees" as nickel — they reject the implant.

How does the immune system react to implants? ›

Research has shown that 100% of all artificial implants cause an immune reaction, and 35% of them require a secondary operation. The immune response on the artificial implant is manageable with immunodepressant therapy [1, 3, 4].

What causes metal implants to break inside the body? ›

Metal implants typically break as a result of fatigue. And fatigue occurs over time. This means that the metal usually breaks not from one sudden load but from repetitive cycles of stress.

Can a person with lupus get dental implants? ›

In conclusion, implants can be applied to patients with SLE.

Can people with rheumatoid arthritis get dental implants? ›

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some patients also experience fever and fatigue. Although there isn't a cure, it can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes. While RA affects the joints, many people with the condition are still candidates for dental implants; however, every situation differs.

Why am I not suitable for dental implants? ›

If they have poor oral health with their natural teeth, it's not likely to improve with implants. Poor oral health is primarily related to the lack of oral hygiene. Someone who doesn't brush regularly and allows their teeth and gums to decay without action are not ideal candidates.

What are the signs and symptoms of Metallosis? ›

Local symptoms of metallosis include hip or groin pain, numbness, swelling, weakness and a change in the ability to walk, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You may notice problems with your skin, heart, kidneys, nervous system or thyroid before you experience local symptoms.

What is metal hypersensitivity? ›

Metal hypersensitivity is a common immune disorder. Human immune systems mount the allergic attacks on metal ions through skin contacts, lung inhalation and metal-containing artificial body implants. The consequences can be simple annoyances to life-threatening systemic illness.

Does weather affect metal implants? ›

Metal implants used in joint replacements, fracture reinforcement and spine fusions transfer heat and cold better than human tissue. Guests who have metal implants might feel the cold more in the implant area during lower temperatures.

How do you test for metal hypersensitivity? ›

Patch skin testing is a method of placing small amounts of different substances on the skin for 2 days, and examining the skin for a reaction for several days after. A positive reaction is red, raised, and often itchy.

Can hardware become infected years later? ›

2 As a result, retained hardware that has been exposed to bacteria may become a nidus for persistent infection if it is not treated or removed.

What are the symptoms of titanium allergy? ›

Clinical Characteristics of Hypersensitivity to Titanium. Researchers have described various clinical manifestations in patients with allergies to titanium including episodes of hives, eczema, edema, reddening, and itching of the skin or mucosa, which may be localized, or generalized.

Is there a patch test for titanium? ›

To date no standard patch test for titanium has so far been developed, and positive reactions to titanium have only rarely been demonstrated with skin testing. [32] The sensitivity of patch tests has been shown to be about 75% for type IV metal allergy.

Is there a blood test for titanium allergy? ›

Titanium Allergy Symptoms & Tests

It's possible to detect a titanium allergy ahead of time with a MELISA test. This type of blood test isolates your white blood cells, exposes them to titanium and measures the immune response to titanium.

Can your body reject orthopedic hardware? ›

Metal hypersensitivity often manifests as contact dermatitis on the area of skin that was exposed to the metal; however, metallic orthopedic implants are inserted deep within the tissue and away from the skin. Nevertheless, these metals can sensitize the body and provoke an immune reaction.

How long does titanium stay in system? ›

When each titanium implant enters the body, it can last up to 20 years. Dental titanium and dental implants can stay in place for even longer than 20 years without any change in quality.

Does titanium fuse to bone? ›

As mentioned earlier, titanium has the ability to fuse together with living bone. This property makes it a huge benefit in the world of dentistry. Titanium dental implants have become the most widely accepted and successfully used type of implant due to its propensity to osseointegrate.

Can you get metallosis from titanium? ›

Previous reports of titanium-induced metallosis have been reported but only in cases in which the softer metal had been used in the bearing surface. The possible long-term effects of metal wear debris in orthopaedic patients has recently been reviewed.

Does titanium accumulate in the body? ›

After oral ingestion, the absorption of titanium dioxide particles is low, however they can accumulate in the body”.

Can titanium go in a MRI scanner? ›

Titanium is a paramagnetic material that is not affected by the magnetic field of MRI. The risk of implant-based complications is very low, and MRI can be safely used in patients with implants.

Can your body reject titanium implants? ›

Titanium Allergy

Simply put, a biocompatible material does not have a toxic or harmful effect on living tissues or the human body. However, some people can be intolerant to the metal and can experience hyper-sensitization or an allergic reaction with titanium implants.

What is a Melisa test? ›

The MELISA® test (Memory Lymphocyte Immuno Stimulation Assay) measures hypersensitivity to numerous metals, including mercury, by placing a series of metals into contact with the white blood cells of the person being tested and then monitoring the reaction.

Is there nickel in titanium implants? ›

It is important to remember that titanium implants still have nickel in them, but it is a minimal amount, and is a more readily available material from implant manufacturers compared to carbon fiber for fracture fixation.

Can you feel plates and screws? ›

Should you have your plate and screws removed after your ankle ...

What happens when your body rejects an implant? ›

Redness, swelling, inflammation, and bleeding around the implantation site is a bad sign after the initial few days. Infections can and do occur—especially in smokers, people with an autoimmune disease or diabetes, and those with poor oral hygiene.

How does your body reject foreign objects? ›

When a foreign object is placed in the body, the immune system recognizes it as not only foreign, but possibly harmful. Because the foreign object remains, the immune system continues to produce an immune response.

What are the most common responses of body to implants? ›

Host reactions following implantation of biomaterials include injury, blood-material interactions, provisional matrix formation, acute inflammation, chronic inflammation, granulation tissue development, foreign body reaction, and fibrosis/fibrous capsule development (Figure 1).

What happens to titanium implants after 20 years? ›

Of these 19 implants, 13 implants (13.7%) had been treated and were successfully maintained over the 20-year follow-up period. Therefore, the 20-year implant success rate was 75.8 or 89.5% depending on the different success criteria. Technical complications were observed in 32%.

What are the signs of cobalt poisoning? ›

Cobalt poisoning can occur when you are exposed to large amounts of it.
...
Symptoms
  • Cardiomyopathy (a problem where your heart becomes big and floppy and has problems pumping blood)
  • Deafness.
  • Nerve problems.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Thickening of the blood.
  • Thyroid problems.
  • Vision problems.

Is it painful to have plates and screws removed? ›

You've had surgery to remove orthopedic hardware such as metal screws, pins, or plates. You can expect some pain and swelling around the cut (incision) the doctor made. This should get better within a few days. But it's common to have some pain for up to several weeks.

Are implants safe for patients with autoimmune diseases? ›

The short answer to this question is yes. In many cases, patients with autoimmune diseases receive implants without experiencing any complications. Research suggests that the dental implant failure rate with autoimmune diseases is similar to the normal failure rate.

Can metal implants cause autoimmune disease? ›

Some of the patients who receive implants develop severe chemical sensitivity and chronic fatigue as well as autoimmune diseases, headaches, anxiety/depression, cognitive dysfunction, hormone imbalances, thyroid disease, arrhythmias, and chronic infections.

Do implants cause autoimmune disease? ›

Breast implant illness (BII) is a term that some women and doctors use to refer to a wide range of symptoms that can develop after undergoing reconstruction or cosmetic augmentation with breast implants. It is also sometimes referred to as autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA).

What medications interfere with dental implants? ›

How Your Medications Can Affect Dental Implants
  • Heartburn Medications. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Pantoloc and Omeprazole are commonly prescribed for patients suffering frequent heartburn. ...
  • Anti-Depressants. ...
  • Bisphosphonates. ...
  • NSAIDS. ...
  • Antibiotics. ...
  • Beta Blockers.
18 May 2021

Can dental implants cause neurological problems? ›

Painful post-traumatic trigeminal neuropathy (PTTN) is a known complication of dental implant therapy. Besides cases resulting of nerve damage during surgery or implant placement, some patients report delayed neuropathic-like symptoms only after implant loading i.e. crown placement.

Can dental implants cause inflammation? ›

Sometimes, dental implants can become infected, causing inflammation in the soft tissues and bone loss around the implant, often by a condition called Peri-Implantitis. Peri-implantitis is an inflammation similar to gum disease and it affects the gum tissues and supporting bone surrounding a dental implant.

Who is not a candidate for a tooth implant? ›

Age limitations for dental implants are explained earlier, and teenagers without complete jawbone growth are the sole candidates considered unsuitable for dental implants. Anyone who is 70 would have attained total jawbone growth several years earlier.

When is it too late for dental implants? ›

It is never too late to get dental implants. However, the length of time you have been without teeth can lead to the need for an additional procedure before proceeding. When your teeth were first removed, you body immediately began absorbing the minerals in your jawbone in order to use them elsewhere.

Is 70 too old for dental implants? ›

Luckily, dental implants are just as effective and long-lasting in older age. Dental implants often change older people's lives for the better, giving them improved physical health and more confidence. No age is too old for dental implants.

How do you know if you have Metallosis? ›

Local symptoms of metallosis include hip or groin pain, numbness, swelling, weakness and a change in the ability to walk, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You may notice problems with your skin, heart, kidneys, nervous system or thyroid before you experience local symptoms.

What triggers an autoimmune disease? ›

The exact cause of autoimmune disorders is unknown. One theory is that some microorganisms (such as bacteria or viruses) or drugs may trigger changes that confuse the immune system. This may happen more often in people who have genes that make them more prone to autoimmune disorders.

Can your body reject metal implants? ›

'Over time their body becomes sensitised to react to it and so when it comes to later in life and needing an implant — many of which contain nickel or metals that the body's immune system "sees" as nickel — they reject the implant.

Can dental implants cause chronic inflammation? ›

Sometimes, dental implants can become infected, causing inflammation in the soft tissues and bone loss around the implant, often by a condition called Peri-Implantitis. Peri-implantitis is an inflammation similar to gum disease and it affects the gum tissues and supporting bone surrounding a dental implant.

What are the symptoms of titanium toxicity? ›

Titanium toxicity can elicit a number of symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, blurring of vision, respiratory inflammation, lymphedema, and hyperpigmentation of the nails and skin [[12], [13], [14]].

Is there a blood test for metallosis? ›

You may need a routine blood test or your doctor may review the symptoms of metallosis with you and urge you to get a blood test after you first develop symptoms of this serious condition.

What are the signs of cobalt poisoning? ›

Cobalt poisoning can occur when you are exposed to large amounts of it.
...
Symptoms
  • Cardiomyopathy (a problem where your heart becomes big and floppy and has problems pumping blood)
  • Deafness.
  • Nerve problems.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Thickening of the blood.
  • Thyroid problems.
  • Vision problems.

Can you reverse autoimmune disease? ›

Autoimmune disease is a sign that there is something deeper going on in your body, and by getting to the root cause you can reverse your condition and live a symptom-free life.

What are the 7 autoimmune diseases? ›

What Are Autoimmune Disorders?
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. ...
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). ...
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). ...
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS). ...
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus. ...
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome. ...
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. ...
  • Psoriasis.

What are 5 common symptoms of an autoimmune disorder? ›

Common symptoms of autoimmune disease include:
  • Fatigue.
  • Joint pain and swelling.
  • Skin problems.
  • Abdominal pain or digestive issues.
  • Recurring fever.
  • Swollen glands.

What causes metal implants to break inside the body? ›

Metal implants typically break as a result of fatigue. And fatigue occurs over time. This means that the metal usually breaks not from one sudden load but from repetitive cycles of stress.

How does the immune system react to implants? ›

Research has shown that 100% of all artificial implants cause an immune reaction, and 35% of them require a secondary operation. The immune response on the artificial implant is manageable with immunodepressant therapy [1, 3, 4].

What is metal hypersensitivity? ›

Metal hypersensitivity is a common immune disorder. Human immune systems mount the allergic attacks on metal ions through skin contacts, lung inhalation and metal-containing artificial body implants. The consequences can be simple annoyances to life-threatening systemic illness.

Can dental implants cause neurological problems? ›

Painful post-traumatic trigeminal neuropathy (PTTN) is a known complication of dental implant therapy. Besides cases resulting of nerve damage during surgery or implant placement, some patients report delayed neuropathic-like symptoms only after implant loading i.e. crown placement.

Can dental implants cause fibromyalgia? ›

The immune system responses can explain the conditions that often develop after a patient receives an implant such as chronic fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, eczema, dermatitis, fibromyalgia, chronic infections, chemical sensitivity, headaches, severe pain, and autonomic nervous system dysfunction. IMAJ 2014:16.

Can titanium cause problems in the body? ›

It is not considered a toxic metal but it is a heavy metal and it does have serious negative health effects. Titanium has the ability to affect lung function causing lung diseases such as pleural disease, it can cause chest pain with tightness, breathing difficulties, coughing, irritation of the skin or eyes.

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