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Dental Implant Showdown: Titanium vs. Zirconia

Sure, many conventional dentists are fans of titanium implants, but more than a few patients beg to differ. For instance, there’s our own patient Seth:

Fortunately, as Seth quickly discovered, metal dental implants aren’t the only game in town. In our opinion, there’s a better option: ceramic zirconia implants.

The Downside of Metal Dental Implants

We’ve looked before at some of the problems with titanium implants. Topping the list is the simple fact that they’re made of metal, which can cause sensitivity issues for some patients.

Complicating the fact is that many titanium implants aren’t 100% titanium. Just as “silver” amalgam fillings contain mercury, copper, and other metals, the material used for most traditional dental implants is an alloy. Some of these alloys can contain toxic metals such as nickel, aluminum, chromium, and cobalt.

Metal implants can also corrode, releasing titanium particles into the body. Over time, the metal ions released can fuel chronic inflammation, leading to conditions such as peri-implantitis or osteonecrotic lesions in the jawbone, which patients commonly call “cavitations.” Titanium implants have been associated, as well, with cases of metal toxicity leading to neurological issues, chronic fatigue, and other worrying symptoms in susceptible individuals.

Other issues can arise if there is a mix of metals in the mouth – different types of metal implants, for instance, or a metal implant plus some old amalgams. This can cause a reaction with your saliva that creates an electrical current, a phenomenon called oral galvanism. It can cause weird sensations in your mouth, such as metallic taste or burning tongue. It can contribute to headaches, fatigue, brain fog, digestive problems, and more.

What Makes Ceramic Zirconia Implants the Preferred Option

None of these issues arise with ceramic implants, which are the only kind we place here at the Holistic Dental Center of New Jersey. Because zirconia is metal-free, there is no risk of electrical currents, metal ion release, or sensitivity reactions. Ceramic zirconia implants are broadly biocompatible.

Ceramic implants have other virtues, too. They’re less prone to bacterial buildup than their metal counterparts. Thanks to their rougher surface, they may integrate more successfully with the surrounding jawbone than metal implants. Retention of natural bone can also be greater with ceramic, especially when platelet rich fibrin (PRF) is used during their placement.

Best of all, zirconia implants look and function just like natural teeth. Because the whole piece – implant plus the restoration on top – is made of a light, tooth-colored material, there’s never any risk of dark gray lines appearing along the margins should your gums ever recede or thin.

The only significant difference is that implants do require some special cleaning techniques. But with proper hygiene, your implants can potentially last for the rest of your life. The restorations that they support may need to be replaced, but overall, implants are the longest lasting tooth replacement option available today.

Yes, ceramic is more expensive than titanium, just as composite is more expensive than mercury amalgam – but only up front. Considering the long term health benefits and the excellent strength and longevity of zirconia implants, we believe they’re a sound investment indeed.

And that gives our implant patients even more reason to smile: