There are many different factors to consider when choosing replacement teeth. In recent years, patients have become more concerned about what comprises replacement teeth. Most people are wary about placing synthetic materials into their body if it isn’t necessary. For many patients, dental implants are a large step in the improvement of their overall oral hygiene and appearance. It’s understandable that these individuals would want to make the most informed decision possible. This article will focus on the primary differences between titanium and zirconia implants to help simplify this complicated decision.
What are Zirconia dental implants?
Dental implants replace the root of a tooth and are capped with dental implant crowns. The crown, more commonly referred to as a replacement tooth, is secured to an implant via an abutment. The Zirconia implant came into popular use in Europe during the 1980s. It took a few more decades (2007) before the United States joined the trend. In the past, dentists in the US favored Titanium implants.
Both materials are compatible and provide a high acceptance rate with the human body. Bones will naturally grow around these implant materials. Most Zirconia implants currently approved by the FDA are comprised of one piece. Titanium implants are usually comprised of more than one element in order to give dentists greater control over the implementation.
Is there any metal in Zirconia implants?
Zirconia is well-known for its similarities to diamonds. This material is crystal in nature and has an altered color when used in dentistry to blend in with teeth. Zirconia is a crystal version of the metal Zirconium. However, these dental implants tend to be marketed as being “metal free”. When the zirconium metal is stabilized, treated, and converted into this crystal phase, it technically ceases to be a metal. Instead, it becomes ceramic. Marketers aren’t lying when they refer to these implants as “metal free”.
What are Titanium dental implants?
Titanium has been one of the most popular materials in medical fields for many decades. This material is also used in knee and hip replacements. As a dynamic metal, Titanium is non-toxic, lightweight, strong, and resistant to corrosion. Dental implants that are constructed with Titanium have an impressive lifespan. Zirconia hasn’t been in use long enough to properly compare its longevity with that of Titanium implants. Furthermore, the style and makeup of Zirconia implants seem to change regularly.
Can a patient have an allergic reaction to a dental implant?
It is very rare for a patient to be allergic to Titanium implants. There have been no reported cases of allergies to Zirconia implants. Titanium implants are usually comprised of a few additional metals including Nickle, Vanadium, and Aluminum. Of the few patients who have had allergic reactions to their Titanium implants, a majority have been allergic to the trace amounts of Nickle found inside.
Are Zirconia and Titanium implants safe to have in the jawbone?
Zirconia and Titanium are both biocompatible materials. According to the FDA, these materials are safe for use in dental implants. In other words, these materials aren’t toxic and will interact well with the body. Although small traces of Titanium Alloy have been identified in the bloodstreams of patients, decades of research haven’t been able to identify any adverse reactions (unless the patient was allergic to metals). Zirconia, on the other hand, is hypoallergenic and won’t seep into a patient’s bloodstream.
When receiving dental implants, there is always an increased risk of developing gum infections until the area has healed. There are some people that argue that implants with two pieces have a greater chance of collecting bacteria. However, single-piece implants require cement-like material which can also collect these bacteria.
Can both of these materials replace a full mouth of teeth?
Titanium is always a better option when a full set of implants, also known as a full arch, is required. As these implants are made with two pieces, dentists have greater freedom to make alterations in order to create a mouthful of straight teeth.
Does this mean that Titanium implants are a better option than Zirconia implants?
There are advantages and disadvantages to each material. We can only recommend the best option after hearing the specific needs of each patient. Here are a few factors that are considered when choosing between these two options.
Cost of Dental Implants
Zirconia costs more money to manufacture than Titanium. As a result, patients will have to spend more on Zirconia implants.
Soft Tissue Healing and Osseointegration
Both Titanium and Zirconia implants are biocompatible due to their ability to integrate with gums and bone. While Zirconia implants are still being studied and researched, Titanium implants have been proven to last for several decades or more. Older versions of Zirconia implants have fractured and required replacements Some manufacturers will attempt to scare patients into believing that Titanium implants could cause a shock current if other types of metal are placed into the mouth. We haven’t found any documentation supporting this idea.
Ease of Placement
More people are abandoning dentures and turning towards Titanium implants when replacing multiple teeth. These implants have become the standard for tooth replacement and are common in many other dental procedures as well. Titanium implants are easy for prosthodontists to place when bone health is good. The placement of Zirconia implants during surgeries has proven to be much more challenging. As mentioned before, these implants are only one piece. This limits the freedom that dentists have when positioning the implant. These implants can’t be placed completely under a patient’s gums and are hard to position at an angle. This is an important obstacle because some patients may have an ideal positioning at an angle. Due to teeth profile and bone density, a straight implant may not be ideal. Although there are some Zirconia implants with two pieces, these models still must undergo more testing before being widely distributed and used.
Most patients have great results with Titanium dental implants. However, there are some patients who are concerned about the development of a grey line underneath the gums or near the ridge of the tooth. Patients with thin gum or bone tissue can have the abutment made from ceramic so this grey metal won’t show. Zirconia, on the other hand, is well-known for being aesthetic. The stunning white color of this material looks natural and won’t show through a patient’s gum tissue.
Titanium and Zirconia would not have been chosen as materials for dental implants if it weren’t for their strength and durability. Titanium dental implants are remarkably strong and have flexible properties and can resist fractures. Zirconia is also very strong and hard. However, this material can experience more micro-fractures due to its lower elasticity.