Medical imaging is a powerful tool for doctors and dentists, allowing us to gain vital information to diagnose illness and plan treatments. We know that the more we can see, the better we can treat.

But sometimes metal dental restorations like dental crowns and metal amalgam fillings, can interfere with imaging, especially MRI. Here are some of the effects that these metal restorations can cause, and how to avoid them.

MRI Safety with Dental Crowns and Restorations

Four Types of Effects

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) utilizes powerful magnetic fields to create images of your body. These magnetic fields can be 10,000 times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field, and at that strength they can have powerful interactions with all kinds of metals, even those that may not seem to interact with regular magnets you might have lying around. The interactions can create significant effects, including four common types:

Projectile Accidents: This is the scariest type of interaction, in which the MRI’s magnetic field literally pulls a restoration out of the mouth. The projectile restoration can injure the person with the restoration or, possibly, others nearby.

Damaged or Dislodged Restorations: Magnetic fields may not interact strongly enough to actually remove a restoration. But they may still be strong enough to move, break, or deform restorations.

If this is noticed, the restoration can be replaced, but if it isn’t, the restoration may not function properly, which can lead to serious long-term damage, such as decay occurring under a dislodged crown.

Thermal Burns: Not all metals react to a magnetic field by moving. Some metals absorb energy from the magnetic field and radio waves as heat. This can cause a restoration to heat up and cause serious burns.  

Visual Artifacts: Another possible interaction is that dental restoration distorts the magnetic field or radio waves from an MRI. This distorts the image captured by the MRI. The distortion can make it hard, if not impossible, to capture the desired images.

Stay Safe During MRIs

Fortunately, it’s often possible to have safe MRI scans even if you have dental restorations. By working together with your doctors, dentist, and technicians, you can avoid many of these problems. Here are some important safety tips:

  • Whenever feasible, choose ceramic or composite restorations over metal
  • Know which restorations are metal and what they’re made of
  • Remember that there doesn’t have to be visible metal to cause problems: even porcelain fused to metal restorations can cause problems.
  • Share information about metal restorations with your doctor and MRI technician
  • If you can remove a restoration, please do so and leave it outside the room.

If you follow these simple steps, you’ll be able to avoid most restoration-related effects during an MRI. You’ll be safe and you’ll get better images.

Are You Looking for Ceramic Restorations?

Ceramic restorations are about more than just cosmetic dentistry. They have many functional and holistic dentistry benefits. Are you looking for ceramic fillings or crowns in San Jose? Whether you’re looking for new restorations or replacements for your old ones, restorative dentist Dr. Nancy Nehawandian can help. Please call (408) 354-5600 today for an appointment with Dr. Nehawandian at Top Down Dental.