In the past, the only available material used for implants was titanium. The emergence of zirconia as an alternative has not only opened up more restorative options, but created conversations among dentists about which is best suited for their patients.
At Frost Dental Group, Dr. Lee T. Frost believes in a collaborative approach to dentistry between doctors and patients. In order to contribute to this ongoing dialogue, let’s take a look at what makes these selections unique:
For most of their lifespan in the dental field, implants have been made of titanium and are one of the most well documented and researched materials used. Even today, 95% of placed implants are composed of titanium alloys. These provide anywhere from twenty to thirty-five years of functionality after their original placement.
The key to titanium’s popularity lies in its special properties. As a durable metal, titanium is not prone to fracture and integrates well with the jaw bone. Titanium is valued for this great biocompatibility, working with the jawbone for a secure fit.
Titanium is also versatile in the way the implant posts can be made and used. Implants made of titanium can be created as either a traditional single prosthetic or as part of a two piece system. In a two-piece system, the screw, or fixture, replaces the root and the abutment, where the prosthetic crown is attached separately.
First approved for use in Europe in 2005, full zirconia implants were developed, in part, to provide a metal-free alternative to their titanium counterparts. Structurally speaking, zirconia is a transitional metal, but has the appearance and feel of ceramic.
The white crystalline appearance of zirconia implants more closely resembles natural dentition, compared with titanium implants, alleviating concerns about metal showing through the restorations.
Advocates of zirconia implants have noted the hygienic benefits the material offers. As full zirconia implants are available as one piece systems only, there is little space for bacteria to hide and grow. Compared to other metal prosthetics, implants made of zirconia are resistant to corrosion. In addition, zirconia implants run no risk of aggravating sensitivities and allergies to titanium or nickel.
Though it is adaptable, zirconia can be more fickle than titanium. While strong enough to support most restorations, zirconia implants are not recommended to replace teeth that are constantly under pressure, such as the molars. Patients who grind or clench their teeth may be better suited for titanium implants.
Both titanium and zirconia dental implants have enough distinct advantages, promoting treatment success for diverse dental needs. If you are ready to discuss implant options, contact Frost Dental Group today!