Zirconia Dental Implants

Tooth loss impacts the lives of thousands of Americans each year. Fortunately, there are many tooth replacement treatment options available for those who are interested in replacing their missing teeth. Dental implants are one of the most popular tooth replacement treatment options. Approximately three million American adults have dental implants, and thousands more are investing in implants each year. A big reason for the popularity of implants is that they offer durability, stability, and security that many other tooth replacement treatments do not. If you are considering investing in dental implants, there are many factors for you to consider. One of the primary choices you will need to make if you commit to dental implant treatment is if you want a titanium implant or zirconia implant. Here is more information for you about dental implant treatment, including details on the many benefits of zirconia dental implants.

Do Dental Implants Look and Feel Natural?

A common first question from patients who are deciding if they want to invest in dental implants is “do the implants look and feel natural?”. Dental implants, particularly zirconia implants, are designed to look just like natural teeth. A dental implant creates an artificial tooth that has an incredibly natural appearance, and also fully restores the eating and chewing function of the mouth.

What are Zirconia Implants?

Zirconia dental implants were designed as a non-metal alternative to titanium implants. Zirconia is a ceramic material that is naturally white in color, similar to the natural color of teeth. Titanium implants have been the industry standard for decades and thus there is decades of research supporting the high success rate (95-97%) of titanium implants. However, some patients may be allergic or highly sensitive to the metals used in the titanium alloy implants. For these individuals with a sensitivity or allergy to titanium alloy, zirconia implants offer a superb alternative. Recently, many patients have been choosing zirconia implants for some of the other reasons beyond seeking a non-metal alternative. While there are fewer studies to support their long-term success, there is evidence that suggests zirconia implants are just as successful as titanium implants.

Titanium vs. Zirconia implants

Choosing between titanium and zirconia implants is one of the first decisions that you and your dentist will need to make when you commit to a dental implant treatment. The first choice of most dentists is titanium alloy due to the proven efficacy in the process of fusing with the bone and the overall high treatment success-rate. The process of the implant fusing with the bone is a critical step in the success of the treatment. While titanium is highly biocompatible with the body, zirconia implants have also shown to fuse well with the jawbone. It is difficult to say that one material is superior to the other, but it should be noted that zirconia implants are emerging as a promising alternative to conventional titanium implants. Both patients and the providers who have worked with zirconia implants have many positive things to say. If you are considering zirconia dental implants, here are some benefits you should know:

  • Superior appearance: Due to the natural color of the implant material, Zirconia implants can offer an appearance that is more aesthetically pleasing. Titanium implants are dark in color and sometimes this dark color shows around the gums depending on their placement. With zirconia implants there is a lower risk of visible dark lines below and around the gums.
  • Flexibility: Initially, zirconia implants were only available as a one-piece implant system, limiting their versatility. With their growing popularity, the number of designs available has increased and two-piece zirconia implants are now available, allowing for more flexibility.
  • Less build-up of plaque and bacteria: Less plaque and bacteria has shown to build up around non-metal implants than with titanium implants suggesting that metal-free implants may be healthier for gum tissue.
  • Good osseointegration: Osseointegration is the critical process of the implant fusing to the bone. Recent evidence shows the osseointegration of zirconia implants is just as good as titanium implants.
  • Corrosion resistant: Zirconia implants are resistant to any corrosion and break down over time that may be caused by water, food or bacteria.
  • Low electrical and thermal conductivity: Compared to metal, ceramic does not conduct thermal or electrical energy. This benefit could potential increase the comfort of the dental implant for the patient.

Disadvantages to Consider

There are some disadvantages of zirconia implants that should be considered when deciding which type of implant is right for you. First, there is less evidence to support the long-term success of zirconia implants as compared to titanium implants. Titanium implants have years of research and development documenting that the implants are highly successful. Second, zirconia is incredibly strong, but not as strong as titanium and zirconia implants are more likely to fracture under excessive force. A fractured implant is potentially dangerous and can cause complications and may need to be replaced. Lastly, zirconia implants are not as great of a choice for implant treatment plans that are complex and complicated. Overall, there are more titanium implant systems available, meaning there is more variety and flexibility in the size and design of implant components to choose from. Zirconia implants are a great option for patients interested in replacing one missing tooth with a simple treatment plan.

One of the biggest reasons why dental implants have become so popular is because the growing number of patients who have made the investment could not be more satisfied. For adults interested in replacing a missing tooth, dental implants offer an option that looks natural, restores function, and improves the overall health of the teeth. Additionally, dental implants can last on average 20-30 years, offering a long-term tooth replacement. Zirconia implants are a safe and promising alternative to titanium implants. Before you decide on zirconia implants, you should have a conversation with your dentist, and make sure they will offer the implant option, and that you understand the potential benefits, limitations, and risks of using zirconia implants in your implant treatment plan.

Replacing Bone for Dental Implants