Why Should You Have Allergy Testing Done Before Dental Implant Placement?

17 March 2023
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


Before you get a dental implant, your dentist may request that you have some preparatory procedures, such as bone grafting. Bone grafting can be helpful for people who don't have adequate jawbone support for the implant. One preparatory step before implant placement that can be helpful is allergy testing.

While dental implants have high success rates, certain allergies—specifically penicillin and metal allergies—could increase the risk of implant failure. Read on to learn how allergy testing can help and how you and your dentist can prevent implant complications.

Penicillin Allergies and Dental Implants

For patients without allergies, antibiotics, like penicillin, help prevent postoperative infections with your implant surgery. However, NYU College of Dentistry reported a study that found that implants were twice as likely to fail for patients with a penicillin allergy. Implant failure means that the implant doesn't integrate with the bone. If the implant fails, patients will need to undergo another surgery, and possibly bone grafts, to fix the issue. Researchers are still trying to understand the correlation and/or causation factors between this allergy and implant failure.

Allergy testing is important because the same study found that penicillin allergies are actually over-reported. If a patient has the proper testing, there are more favorable outcomes since a dentist can prescribe alternative medications for those with a true allergy and amoxicillin and other penicillin medications to those without the allergy.

Metal Allergies

Common metal allergies include chromium, nickel, and cobalt. Dental implants are made of titanium, which thankfully, is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. But even if the prevalence is low, it's a good idea to have allergy testing done, especially if you've had allergic reactions to metals in the past. If a person has an undiagnosed titanium allergy, they may experience:

  • A foul odor around the implant
  • Hives or inflammation of gum tissue
  • Erythema or redness around the implant
  • Swelling or pain that doesn't improve
  • Allergic reactions in other tissues, such as causing yellow nail syndrome

There are a variety of tests that can be used to look for titanium allergies, such as the Memory Lymphocyte Immuno-Stimulation Assay (MELISA test) and the lymphocyte migration transformation test. If a test does reveal a titanium allergy, your dentist can opt for a zirconia implant instead. Zirconia is a non-metal ceramic that is often used during crown restoration, but it can also be used in implant dentistry.

As you can see, although penicillin and titanium allergies can be serious causes for concern, there they don't necessarily preclude one from getting an implant. Your dentist can use alternative medications and implant materials. Reach out to your dentist today for more information about dental implant surgery.