When you lose a tooth, you need a dental implant to replace it. But, the material of that implant is important. Zirconia implants are a new and exciting technology to replace lost teeth. Yet, not many patients and dentists think of zirconium as a dental implant material. Here’s why you should choose zirconia to get the best results from your dental implant treatment.
What Are Zirconia Implants?
Zirconia, also known as zirconium dioxide is a material chemically derived from zircon. It consists of Zirconium and Oxygen elements. While zirconium is a metal, due to the oxidation, zirconia is a ceramic material. Thanks to its transitional metal status, zirconia combines the strength of metal with the heat-resistant power of ceramic.
Zirconia is an ideal material for dental implants. It’s bioinert, which means that it will never trigger chemical reactions, migrate to other sites in the body or corrode. That’s why it’s the non-metal alternative to titanium. Its naturally white color also makes it a great choice for patients.
Zirconia vs. Titanium Implants: Which Is Better?
The most commonly used dental implant material today is titanium. Dentists have used titanium since the ‘60s. These medical devices have a 90+ % success rate So, why do we need an alternative?
While titanium is more popular among dental practices, it doesn’t mean that it’s better. Zirconia implants are innovative. They have unique properties that titanium ones don’t. And since the color is white, zirconia implants look better in your smile as well.
There’s a big debate between using titanium vs. ceramic dental implants. Ultimately, it comes down to what the patient prefers and the dentist recommends. But, zirconia implants certainly have their advantages.
Benefits of Zirconia Dental Implants
Most of the benefits of zirconia implants come from the material’s properties. Metal has some potentially harmful properties that ceramic simply doesn’t.
1. They’re Hypoallergenic
If you develop sensitivity or allergies to titanium, you won’t just experience itchiness and inflammation. You could potentially lose your implant. Luckily, zirconia is a naturally hypoallergenic material. Meaning that you won’t develop side effects after surgery.
2. Zirconia Is Corrosion Resistant
Zirconia doesn’t corrode. It’s bioinert, which means that it won’t migrate to other parts of your body. Titanium on the other hand has been proven to corrode in a wet environment. Well, the mouth is a very wet environment. Nearby materials and some toothpaste can even trigger titanium to corrode faster.
3. Zirconium Implants Are Very Strong
Zirconia is very durable and inflexible in pressure. That’s why it’s a great material for dental implants. Your teeth need to withstand the enormous force of your jaw muscles when you’re eating. And zirconia teeth match this power as well.
However, I would be more selective about placing these implants in the posterior and more likely choose the anterior until there are more long-term studies concerning posterior placement.
4. Integration With the Bone
How well the implant bonds with the bone can make or break the success of dental implant surgery. If the bone rejects the implant, there could be complications. Luckily, zirconia has a good track record with integration. Even the soft tissue around the implant is happier with zirconia vs. with titanium.
5. Zirconium Helps With Plaque Buildup
Ceramic has a very smooth finish. And plaque has a hard time holding on without crooks and crevices. Plus, zirconia has a non-polar structure. This means that bacteria are less likely to adhere to it. Zirconium implants lead to cleaner and healthier oral hygiene.
6. Avoid Metallic Taste with Zirconia Dental Implants
You don’t just feel the titanium implant. You can also taste it. Due to its corrosion, the metallic feature of titanium isn’t the tastiest implant solution. Zirconia on the other hand doesn’t taste like anything.
7. Faster Healing Time
Zirconia isn’t a metal, so it doesn’t conduct heat. This is better for your gums, especially when you’re healing.
8. Aesthetic Advantage
Titanium implants often cause discoloration through the gums. The silver of the metal taints your gums, and this is clearly visible. Especially if your implant is in your smile zone. With zirconia’s white and non-corrosive material, this isn’t a problem at all!
Disadvantages of Zirconia Dental Implants
Zirconia sounds suspiciously perfect? While it’s truly an amazing material for dental implants, it’s not without its faults. You need to be aware of the disadvantages of zirconia too to make an informed decision about your dental health.
Fewer Dentists Offer Them
Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles, if you want zirconia implants, is the lack of dentists that offer them. Zirconium dentistry isn’t as popular as using titanium. So, make sure you search in your area for dentists offering zirconia implants near you.
Zirconia implants only arrived in the US dental market in 2019. So, they’re still relatively new to dentists in the States.
Are Zirconia Dental Implants Safe?
Absolutely! Zirconia has non-corrosive and nonallergic properties. So, it may actually be safer and more beneficial to the patient than any other dental material. Titanium on the other hand, can corrode in the wet environment of the mouth. Which can lead to serious complications.
Do Zirconia Teeth Look Good?
Yes. Zirconia dental implants look very good. They’re non-metallic and white, so they seamlessly fit into your smile. Zirconia teeth look just like real teeth.
Titanium sadly doesn’t have this natural aesthetic to it. If you have thin or receding gums, the titanium’s grey color often becomes visible.
Zirconium Implant Cost
Every dentist prices their products and services differently. But, generally, zirconia implants cost more than titanium implants. That’s because zirconia has a higher manufacturing cost.