I knew my dentist was going to insert a post into my root canal tooth (lower molar), but I didn’t think to ask what the post was made of. I found out today that the post is stainless steel. I am wearing a temporary crown and will get the final crown in about two weeks. My dentist explained that the stainless-steel post will be encased, but can it be removed and replaced with a non-metal post? If there is no other way to save the tooth, I would rather have an extraction. I’m really concerned about getting this post out of my mouth. I think I am having a reaction to it, and it is making my ears ring. – Thank you. Alex from S. Carolina
Thank you for submitting your question to our office.
Although a dentist can remove a stainless-steel post from your tooth, there are risks.
Purpose of a post in a tooth
A dentist might insert a post in a root canal to strengthen the tooth or support a crown. The post can be useful in these situations:
- Front teeth – A post strengthens the tooth against horizontal fracture.
- Molar and other teeth – The post can serve as the foundation for building up the tooth and retaining the crown.
History of tooth posts
In the 1970s and earlier, prefabricated dental posts were made of stainless steel. In the 1980s, studies confirmed that metal ions can seep out of the tooth and into the bloodstream—even though the post is cemented inside the tooth. The nickel in stainless steel often causes a reaction in people with metal allergies or sensitivities.
Alternative materials for dental posts
Alternative materials for dental posts include titanium, zirconia, carbon fiber, and fiberglass. Titanium is a strong, biocompatible metal that many dental practices used. And in the 1990s, other materials, including carbon fiber and fiberglass were used to make dental posts. Now, the ceramic zirconia is an alternative for a biocompatible, flexible high-strength post.
If you have metal allergies or sensitivities, a dentist can remove your post. But it seems that your dentist is not the one to do it. The complexity of removing the post depends on how deeply your dentist embedded it and how firmly it is cemented. A skilled dentist might use an ultrasonic tip to dislodge it.
Get a second opinion
You can ask your dentist to postpone your dental crown until the post is removed. If a crown is cemented over the post, it will become more difficult to remove it. Although Dr. Brooksher would need to examine your tooth, your description does not suggest that you might require an extraction and dental implant. We recommend that you schedule an appointment with a skilled dentist for a second opinion. After examining your tooth, the dentist will explain your treatment option.
Best wishes for a prompt resolution.
Steven Brooksher, DDS, of Baton Rouge, sponsors this post.