Zirconia Dental Implants

Tooth loss is common and impacts millions of Americans lives each year. Thanks to advances in technology, there are many tooth replacement treatment options to choose from. Dental implants are one of the most popular tooth replacement treatments chosen among adults in the United States. Dental implant treatment has increased exponentially in the past few years. Over three million Americans have dental implants. A big reason for their popularity is that implants offer durability, stability, and security that other tooth replacement treatments do not. If you are trying to decide if you want to invest in dental implants, there are many factors and choices to consider. One of the biggest choices to make with dental implants is if you want a titanium implant or zirconia implant. Below is more information about dental implants, including details on the many benefits of zirconia dental implants.

Do Dental Implants Look and Feel Natural?

One of the common first questions from patients deciding if they want to invest in dental implants is whether the implants will look and feel natural. The answer is yes. Dental implants, especially zirconia implants, are designed to look just like natural teeth. Not only do dental implants result in artificial teeth that look natural, implants restore the function of the lost teeth, including fully restoring eating and chewing abilities.

What are Zirconia Implants?

Zirconia dental implants are a non-metal alternative to titanium implants. Zirconia is a ceramic material. The material is naturally white in color, similar to the natural color of teeth. For decades titanium implants have been the industry standard and years of research and development have led to titanium implants that are 95-97% successful. Zirconia implants were designed as an alternative to titanium implants. Some patients may be allergic or sensitive to metals used in the titanium alloy implants. For individuals who have a sensitivity or allergy to titanium alloy, zirconia implants offer a great alternative. Recently, adults have been choosing zirconia implants for reasons beyond them being a non-metal alternative. While there is less evidence available to support their long-term success, studies suggest that zirconia implants may be just as successful as titanium implants.

Titanium vs. Zirconia implants

Deciding on the implant material is one of the first decisions that you and your dentist will need to make when you commit to a dental implant treatment. Most dentists will choose titanium alloy, because the material is proven to effectively integrate with the bone and titanium implants have a high success-rate. The fusing of the implant with the bone is critical to the success of the treatment. However, zirconia implants are extremely strong and also fuse well with the jawbone. Are zirconia implants superior to titanium implants? It is difficult to say. Zirconia implants are emerging as a promising alternative to conventional titanium implant systems. There are many reported benefits of zirconia implants by both patients and the providers that install them. If you are interested in considering zirconia dental implants, here are some benefits to consider:

  • Superior appearance: Zirconia implants can offer an appearance that is more aesthetically pleasing, this is because the natural color of the implant reduces the risk of any dark lines below and around the gums. Titanium implants are dark in color and sometimes can be visible around the gums depending on their placement.
  • Flexibility: For a while, zirconia implants were only available as a one-piece implant limiting their use and their versatility. As the popularity of zirconia implants grows, so does the number of designs available. Two-piece zirconia implants are now available, allowing for more flexibility in their use.
  • Less build-up of plaque and bacteria: Metal-free implants appear to be healthier for gum tissue because less plaque and bacteria has shown to build up around the implant and the gumline than with titanium implants.
  • Good osseointegration: The process of the fusing of the bone to the implant, or osseointegration, is critical to the success of the dental implant. Recent clinical studies have shown zirconia implants are as good or even better than titanium implants in terms of osseointegration.
  • Corrosion resistant: Zirconia implants are resistant to corrosion and break down over time, meaning they should last for just as long as titanium implants.
  • Low electrical and thermal conductivity: Unlike metal, ceramic does not conduct thermal or electrical energy, potential increasing the comfort of the dental implant for the patient.

Disadvantages to Consider

Although there are many benefits of zirconia implants, there are some disadvantages that should be considered. Due to their recent development, there is less evidence to support the long-term success of zirconia implants. Titanium implants have gone through years of research and development and are proven to be highly successful. Additionally, zirconia implants are more brittle than titanium implants and are more likely to fracture under excessive force caused by bending or flexing. A fractured implant can cause complications and may need to be entirely replaced. Lastly, zirconia implants are less popular when a dental implant treatment plan is complex and complicated. Titanium implant systems offer more variety and flexibility in the size and design of implant components. Zirconia implants are a better option for patients who are interested in replacing one missing tooth or have a simple treatment plan.

If you are questioning if dental implants are worth the investment, you are not alone. A big reason why dental implants have become so popular is because patients who have made the investment could not be more satisfied. For many adults, replacing a missing tooth or many missing teeth with a replacement option that looks natural, restores function, and improves the health of the teeth is worth the investment. Implants can last on average 20 years or more, offering long-term tooth replacement. Zirconia implants are a safe and valid alternative to Titanium implants. Prior to committing to zirconia implants, it is important to understand the potential benefits, limitations, and risks of the treatment. If you are wondering if a dental implant system may be right for you, you should have a conversation with your dentist today.

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