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Zirconia Implants vs Titanium – Which is Best for You?

Modern dental implants were a major advancement in dental technology when they first came out, offering the option of entirely restoring damaged or missing teeth. For many years, titanium alloy was the material of choice for dental implants and remains a popular choice in many implant procedures.

However, the introduction of new implant material, zirconium ceramic, has provided a non-metal alternative to titanium implants for individuals with sensitivities or those who prefer not to have metal in their dental restorations. Zirconium dental implants have gained much credibility in recent years for their reliability and the added benefit of metal-free dentistry.

Both titanium and zirconia dental implants come with their respective benefits and downsides, and we’re here to help you understand the differences so you can choose which implant option is best for you.

Titanium Dental Implants vs. Metal-Free Zirconia Implants

Dental materials, including natural teeth, artificial teeth, titanium implant systems, and restorative materials, continuously interact with physiological fluids within the mouth. Every day, they are exposed to a range of food and drinks, from both hot and cold drinks (think hot coffee and ice-cold water) to pH-altering fruit juices and milk products, making the mouth one of the most inhospitable environments in the human body. As a result, dental materials should be chosen with great care. We must consider the following when choosing material for dental applications:

  • Corrosion behavior: Will the material wear down over time?
  • Mechanical properties: Does the material have the potential for long-term success?
  • Cost: Is the material affordable?
  • Availability: Is the material widely available for use in dental restorations?
  • Biocompatibility: Will the material cause adverse reactions for the patient?
  • Aesthetic appearance: Does the material for implants blend with the natural teeth?

Titanium Dental Implants

Zirconia Implants vs Titanium – Which is Best for You?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, titanium, commonly used in medical devices and oral implants, is viewed as an inert material. However, metal implants can incite toxicity or allergy-like reactions in implant patients with allergies to titanium. Patients who are allergic to other metals, such as jewelry, have a heightened risk of developing titanium allergies. Possible health side effects of titanium alloy implants include:

  • Exacerbation or initiation of autoimmune diseases
  • Galvanic toxicity (metallic taste, sensation of electric charge upon contacting other metals, chronic insomnia)
  • Implant rejection
  • Free radical damage
  • Deterioration of bone tissue

Zirconia Implants

Zirconia implants, on the other hand, have demonstrated high success rates in clinical studies regarding bone integration and durability. Zirconium implants are an excellent option for individuals with a history of metal allergies or those concerned about metal exposure. They deliver impressive strength without the gum irritation often associated with titanium implants. Other benefits of zirconia implants include:

  • The color closely matches the natural tooth roots, so there is no visible grey metal color throughout the gums.
  • They won’t corrode like traditional titanium implants might
  • They don’t cause electric currents or vibrations between dissimilar metals in the mouth
  • They’re thermally non-conductive

Zirconium implants are well-suited for those with gum recession or thinner gum tissues and offer an effective solution for individuals seeking metal-free one-piece implants. For those sensitive to metals or concerned about having any metal in their body, zirconium is often the preferred dental implant option. Furthermore, zirconium implants can help preserve bone and enhance gum health, largely because zirconium is inert and non-corrosive, promoting healthier gum tissue.

Comparing Zirconia Implants vs Titanium

Zirconia Implants vs Titanium – Which is Best for You?
 Titanium ImplantsZirconium Ceramic Implants
CorrosionCan corrodeDoes not corrode
AppearanceMay show dark color through gumsNatural white color, aesthetically appealing
ConductivityCan create electric currents/vibrations with other metalsThermally non-conductive
BiocompatibilityCan cause allergic reactions in someIdeal for those with metal sensitivities
Health Side EffectsAutoimmune disease, Galvanic toxicity, Implant rejection, Free radical damage, Bone lossNone reported, Promotes better gum health
History of UsageLengthyNot as lengthy as titanium, but proven successful
Ideal forGeneral usePatients with thinner gum tissues, those who prefer metal-free dental implants

Maintenance and Care of Zirconia Implants

Zirconia implants, like any tooth replacements, require regular and proper care to ensure their longevity and health. Maintaining these ceramic implants isn’t fundamentally different from maintaining natural teeth, but there are some specific considerations you should keep in mind:

  • Regular Brushing and Flossing: Essential for any oral hygiene routine, brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day are equally important for dental implant care. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush can be beneficial to avoid damaging the gum tissue around your implant.
  • Use of Non-Abrasive Toothpaste: Abrasive toothpaste can cause wear over time and potentially damage the zirconia implant. Using non-abrasive toothpaste can help to avoid unnecessary wear and tear.
  • Regular Dental Check-ups: Schedule regular dental check-ups (ideally every six months) to monitor the health of your zirconia implant. Regular professional cleanings will help maintain the implant and the health of the surrounding gums and teeth.
  • Avoid Hard Foods: Zirconia implants are highly durable, but they aren’t immune to damage. Try to avoid hard foods such as ice, hard candies, or anything else that might cause undue pressure on the implant.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking can hinder the healing process after the implant placement and negatively affect the longevity and health of your implant. For the best possible outcome with your zirconia implant, it’s recommended to quit smoking.

Remember, proper aftercare is a significant part of the success of your zirconia dental implant. The better you maintain it, the longer it is likely to last and function optimally.

Why Holistic Dental Implant Specialists Prefer Zirconia

As holistic dentists, we recommend dental solutions that holistically benefit the patient. Our decisions are influenced by the condition of your mouth and gums and what suits your personal situation best. 

Our primary objective is to provide treatments that favor not just your oral health, but your overall well-being. Our holistic dental implant specialists emphasize a whole-body approach to dental care. If you would like more information on your tooth replacement options, connect with us today.

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