Zirconium or Metal Implants – Which is Best for You?
The development of dental implants was a quantum leap in the field of dentistry, allowing the miracle of fully restoring missing or damaged teeth. For many years titanium was the only material used in dental implants and it is still used in many dental implant surgeries. However, a new implant material was introduced providing a non metallic option for those with sensitivities or who simply do not want metal used in their restorations. Zirconium ceramic implants are proving to be reliable with the added benefit of being metal-free.
Both titanium and zirconium ceramic implants have advantages and disadvantages that patients should be aware of before choosing their implant material.
Titanium vs. Zirconium
Artificial and natural teeth, metallic dental implants, as well as restorative materials within the mouth interact continually with physiological fluids. They function in one of the most inhospitable environments in the human body – the mouth. During 24 hours, restorations and teeth are exposed to a variety of eatables, from tea or coffee causing higher temperatures to ice or cold drinks causing lower temperatures, from fruit juices causing a reduction of pH, to milk or other products causing an increase in pH in the oral cavity. Thus, dental materials need to be selected very carefully. Before selecting a material for dental applications, it is necessary to remember that the choice of the material depends on a number of factors such as
- corrosion behavior
- mechanical properties,
- biocompatibility, and
- aesthetic appearance.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, titanium, used in orthopedic devices and oral implants, is considered an inert material and can induce toxicity or allergic type reactions. The risk of an allergy to titanium is increased in patients who are allergic to other metals – for example jewelry. The potential health side effects of titanium dental implants include the following:
- Autoimmune disease aggravation or initiation.
- Galvanic toxicity: metal taste, sensation of electric charge when encountering other metals, chronic insomnia,
- Implant rejection,
- Free radical damage,
- Bone loss.
The history of usage for zirconium implants is not as lengthy as titanium implants; however, they have proven to be very successful in terms of bone integration and longevity. Patients with concerns about metal exposure can confidently have zirconium implants. These implants provide great strength with no issues of gum irritation as can sometimes occur with titanium implants. The advantages of Zirconium dental implants are:
- No dark color of the metal showing through the gums
- No corrosion of the zirconium as with titanium
- No electric currents or vibrations between dissimilar metal in the mouth
- It is thermally non-conductive.
Zirconium implants are ideal for people who have thinner gum tissues and are a good solution for people who wish to have a metal-free dental implant. Some people may be sensitive to metals and could have concerns about having any type of metal in their body. The natural white color of zirconium is aesthetically appealing, and zirconium implants can help preserve the bone and promote better gum health. Gum tissue around ceramic materials tends to be healthier, largely because zirconium is inert and doesn’t corrode.
As holistic dentists, we advocate dental solutions that benefit the whole body. Our decisions are based on the condition of your mouth and gums, and what’s best in your personal situation. You can always count on our efforts to only perform treatments that will benefit not just your mouth, but your overall health.