Offering a permanent tooth replacement option and boasting a high success rate, dental implants are the gold standard for replacing missing teeth. Dental implants are fabricated from materials suitable for use in the human body—metals, zirconia/ceramic, or a combination of material types.
Titanium dental implants are the most commonly used dental implant, available since the mid-1980s. A titanium implant is a tooth root replacement surgically placed by a dentist and allowed to fuse with the jawbone—a process called osseointegration that takes about six months to complete. Once fused, the implant acts as a permanent anchor for artificial teeth.
Once your dentist determines that the implant has successfully fused with your jawbone, they’ll attach an abutment to the top of the implant to which prosthetic teeth are then secured.
Zirconia is a metal-free ceramic material that has been used in dentistry for over 20 years. It has flexural strength and is biocompatible, making it a viable choice for dental implants.
This type of implant has been developed to avoid the potential risks associated with metal implants, such as metal sensitivity and allergic reactions.
Zirconia/ceramic implants are constructed from a single piece of ceramic, so they’re entirely metal-free. Since this type of implant is relatively new compared to titanium implants, less clinical data is available on their long-term durability.
Porcelain-on-zirconia implants are a relatively new type of implant made of zirconium oxide. The zirconia is overlaid with porcelain to more closely mimic the appearance of the patient’s natural teeth.
In some patients, titanium implants have been associated with allergic reactions and inflammation. The use of zirconia as an implant material eliminates the need for titanium. However, because of its proven strength and durability, titanium has long been one of the most popular materials used in dental implants.
Although clinical tests have demonstrated the successful long-term performance of porcelain-on-zirconia implants, they’re still relatively new and untested compared to titanium.
Comparing the Types of Implants
Millions of patients have reaped the benefits of titanium, the leading option in all types of bone and plate implants. Titanium has been time-tested and proven safe, effective, and versatile in both medical and dental applications.
Titanium dental implants are designed as a two-piece system. With titanium dental implants, a post is surgically placed in the jawbone to secure the replacement tooth or teeth. An abutment sits above the implant and connects to the replacement tooth.
Unlike titanium implants, zirconia/ceramic or porcelain-on-zirconia implants are typically fabricated as a single piece. The post and abutment are merged into a single unit, potentially lowering the risk of germs infecting the gums.
Despite this benefit, zirconia/ceramic and porcelain-on-zirconia dental implants haven’t acquired the same widespread acceptance and use as titanium implants because they’ve been available for a comparatively short time.
Your dentist can recommend the implant materials best suited to your needs.
Learn More About Dental Implants at Laurie A. Rosato, DMD
Whether you have one missing tooth or many, dental implants can help you regain your oral health and smile. Learn more at Laurie A. Rosato, DMD today.