Before my dentist put a post in my upper left second molar, I should have asked what the post is made of. I didn’t think about it. My dentist put a temporary crown over the tooth. I’ve been wearing the temporary crown for two weeks. When I went into the office today for my son’s appointment, I found out that the post is stainless steel. I do not want a stainless-steel post in my mouth. I asked my dentist about other options, but he said he has used stainless steel posts for the past 15 years. That’s not the issue. I don’t want metal in my tooth and certainly not trapped beneath my crown. I didn’t continue the conversation with my dentist because I was upset. If he doesn’t change the post, I will find another dentist to do it. What are the options for posts? Is there a chance I might lose this tooth and need an implant? Thanks. Manny from KY
Thank you for your question. We understand your concern about a stainless-steel tooth post.
Why Does a Tooth Need a Post?
A tooth needs a post when it is missing most of its structure. The post can have these effects on a tooth:
- Strengthen it against horizontal fracture
- Strengthen the foundation for a crown
- Help retain a buildup of a tooth for supporting a crown
What Is the History of Tooth Posts?
Initially, manufacturers used stainless steel to make tooth posts. But that was in the 1970s. Many dental practices switched to biocompatible titanium posts after researchers found metal ions in the bloodstream from stainless steel posts. In the 1990s, manufacturers began making tooth posts from other materials, including carbon fiber and fiberglass. Now, zirconia, a high-strength ceramic with flexibility, is another option.
Replacing a Tooth Post
Replacing a tooth post can be challenging depending on its depth and how securely your dentist cemented it. A dentist may use the vibration of an ultrasonic tip to loosen the post. Otherwise, you may need to see a root canal specialist (endodontist) to remove the post. An endodontist’s specialized tools can remove the post.
Speak with your dentist or an endodontist about your preference for a non-metal post. If your dentist is unwilling to replace the post—or is hesitant about doing so—schedule an appointment with another a skilled dentist or an endodontist.
Unless the tooth fractures or weakens further with the post extraction, you should not need an extraction and dental implant.
Dr. Mohamed Imam, an implant and cosmetic dentist in San Antonio, Texas, sponsors this post.