Interview: “Ion release from metal implants is dangerous for human health”
Last week, the technical committee for dentistry of the International Organization for Standardization held its 50th meeting in Berlin in Germany. Independent experts from all over the world gathered to discuss new standards for dental implants, among other oral health care issues. After the committee meeting, Dental Tribune ONLINE met with Dr Jean-Paul Davidas, who is the oldest practising dental implantologist in Europe with about 50 years’ experience and a member of the French national organisation for standardisation (Association Française de Normalisation), to learn more about the latest developments in the field.
Dental Tribune ONLINE: Dr Davidas, could you please tell us what issues concerning dental implants were discussed during the meeting?
Dr Jean-Paul Davidas: We discussed a number of innovations for dental implant standards. In particular, the committee, which is composed of independent experts from over 30 countries, has set out to investigate ion release from metal dental implants.
Since the discoveries of Prof. Per-Ingvar Brånemark, the father of osseointegration, titanium implants have been routinely used for dental work. However, such implants can corrode and degrade, thereby releasing ions. There is some concern that metal degradation products from these implants could have harmful effects on the patient over a period. In order to assess the implications of these leaks, we are currently developing new standards to evaluate this kind of problem. However, it could take up to five years before a new standard becomes effective.
What are the dangers of metal implants to human health, and how could such dangers be addressed?
Ion release can be very dangerous with regard to immuno-toxicology. It can cause serious systemic diseases in the brain, lungs and kidneys, as well as cancer. Although we cannot determine the exact long-term consequences yet, we know already that corrosion and ion release from metal implants is dangerous for human health.
First, our goal is to establish new standards to evaluate the risks associated with ion release over the next ten years. If it turns out that the use of metal implants is too dangerous in this respect, there are many means to protect patients. For instance, we could stop using metal implants and use alternative materials, such as ceramics, which have been introduced for dental implants in recent years. However, it is too early to determine this.
The number of standards and regulations manufacturers have to adhere to has increased significantly over the past decade. Has it become too difficult for manufacturers to produce dental implants?
Unfortunately, yes, I think that there are too many standards today. With too many regulations, there is the risk of a monopoly. If it is too complicated to bring a certain implant on to the market, only the few companies who can afford it will be able to comply with the regulations of their country.
Thus, it is my goal to simplify standards and regulations for medical devices. In my opinion, what we need are worldwide standards that can be achieved by any company in the world.