For generations, adults with tooth loss turned to dentures to maintain appearance and function. In the 1960s, titanium implants became a more permanent option to replace individual teeth, or even complete tooth loss. While titanium implants are still the industry standard, zirconia implants are quickly growing in popularity for a variety of reasons.
Titanium Implants vs Zirconia Implants
Traditional titanium implants consist of a screw, an abutment, and the crown. An implant dentist places the screw in a hole in your jaw. They fit the abutment on top of the screw and this works as a connector, holding the implant and the crown together.
Zirconia implants are different. They are one solid piece. The crown, or replacement tooth, and the screw that goes into your jaw are all one piece. These is no need for connectors or additional procedures to attach a crown. For many, this all-in-one design offers many benefits.
Why Metal-Free Implants May Be a Better Option for You
Over the years, people are becoming more and more concerned with the materials used in their body and how these materials can affect their overall health. While titanium implants have a great success rate, the use of metals within the body can cause some problems for people, especially those with sensitivities. Eric Kitts, DDS from Soundview Family Dental in Edmonds, Washington states “While titanium implants work for most patients, those with metal sensitivities, concerns about metal in their body, or looking for a shorter procedure time may find great success with metal-free implant options.”
When comparing titanium implants with the metal-free zirconia implants, these five benefits are worth considering.
Reduced Sensitivity and Allergic Reactions
Titanium implants can become a problem for those with metal sensitivities. While these implants consist mostly of titanium, other metals are still present. Those with sensitivities to these metals can experience extreme sensitivity, bone loss, and implant failure. The bad thing is these sensitivities don’t always appear immediately. While your implants may seem successful at first, sensitivity to the metals can appear years later, causing the implants to fail prematurely.
Zirconia implants are hypoallergenic and metal-free, eliminating the potential for allergic reactions and implant failure. If you suffer from known metal allergies or sensitivities, you should talk with your dentist about metal-free implants.
Reduced Risk of Corrosion and Infection
Unfortunately, we know that metals corrode over time. Titanium is no different and your implants can corrode. When this occurs, the implant releases titanium ions that, in some people, can trigger autoimmune reactions. It can also contribute to peri-implantitis which causes inflammation and bone loss. Because zirconia implants are metal-free, there is no risk of corrosion.
Traditional titanium implants consist of multiple parts. Unfortunately, these parts can often shift and create pockets where bacteria can grow. When bacteria grow in these small spaces, often near the gumline, infection can often occur. If left undetected and untreated, these infections can cause gum disease and implant complications. In contrast, the one-piece construction of zirconia implants reduces this risk of infection. In addition, studies show that zirconia implants experience a significant reduction in bacterial formation.
Reduced Surgical Procedure Time
Titanium implant placements often require multiple procedures. Your oral surgeon will remove damaged teeth, if necessary. After removal, the jaw often requires preparation, including grafting, before they can place the implant screw. After placement of the screw, you must wait while the jawbone grows and heals around the screw before the abutment and crown can be attached. This process can take months. In contrast, metal-free zirconia implants can be placed immediately after tooth extraction, reducing the procedure time and the time that you are without teeth.
More Natural Appearance
Titanium implants can often cause from unpleasant aesthetic issues, especially in people with thin or receding gums. The metal can show through the gums, causing a grayish appearance. Others may notice a metallic appearance around the tooth and gumline. Because metal-free implants are natural tooth color and one piece, there is no un-natural appearance. This provides a much more natural and appealing look.
Just as Strong and Durable
As a ceramic implant, many patients worry that metal-free implants are not as strong and durable as traditional titanium implants. The truth is zirconia implants are extremely strong and durable. They can withstand great force under pressure. In addition, the fact that they are non-corrosive increases their chance for long-term implant success.
If you are considering dental implants, talk with your oral surgeon about how metal-free implants may be a better option for you. While metal-free implants are not always an option, your surgeon will help you decide which implants will work best for your dental needs.