Could Metal from Dental Implants Trigger Metal Detectors?

Dentists are often questioned by dental implant recipients ‘Will my dental implants trigger airport security scanners.’  We have found that dental implant recipients usually go past airport security checkpoints without any complications.

An Explanation of the Mechanisms Behind Metal Detectors
One way that metal detectors find objects is by emitting a magnetic field around the user in rapid succession. The echo that is produced by these pulses is what the detector uses to determine a reading. The detector’s magnetic field creates a magnetic field in any metal objects that pass through it. This causes a distortion in the echoes the machine is expecting to hear, producing ones that are longer and louder than expected.

There are three hypotheses put out by dentists and non-specialists alike as to why dental implants are not detected:

  • Your jawbone acts as an insulation between the implant and the metal detector.
  • There is no magnetic field produced by titanium?
  • Metal detectors will not pick up on dental implants because of its small size.

A: Implants Are Not All Detector-Safe
Depending on the implant itself, some metals may be too small for a metal detector to detect if they are buried deep into bone. However, certain implants, such as Orthopedic implants, (like hip replacement) are equally as insulated by the body, if not more, yet they nonetheless set off metal detectors.

B: Titanium Does not Create a Magnetic Field
This hypothesis is inaccurate.  The inability of many earlier metal detectors to identify titanium and other noble metals may have led to this misconception. However, not all alloys of titanium generate the same magnitude of magnetic field.

C: Implants do not trigger metal detectors because they are too small.
It has been noted that little titanium screws will not trigger security alarms. It is not only the size, however; tiny gum wrappers containing even a trace quantity of aluminum have been observed to trigger metal detectors. Similarly, certain implant configurations (such as dentures with a machined bar connection) really contain a lot of metal.

It may be more probable that all three theories have a role in explaining the answer to this question. Dental implants are affixed to the jaw and are constructed of a metal that is less likely to be detected and are insulated for further safety.