For a long time in history, dentures were the only tooth replacement option available to patients. However, now, dental implants are considered one of the best ways to replace a missing tooth because they offer unparalleled functionality, strength, and durability, and they look and feel just like a natural tooth. Titanium is the material most commonly used for dental implants, but non-metal dental implants, made of ceramic — or zirconia — dental implants have also been on the rise in recent years. Below, Dr. Sanda Moldovan, dentist in Beverly Hills, CA, explains what ceramic implants are and how they are different from titanium.
What are ceramic implants?
While titanium implants were first used starting in the mid-1960s, ceramic implants are a newer technology that have been in use for about 20 years. They are designed to be an alternative for patients who are allergic or sensitive to titanium, have autoimmune disease or galvanic reactions to metals, or who simply do not want any metals in their body.
Ceramic implants are also often called “zirconia implants” because they are made from a tooth-colored ceramic material called “zirconium oxide,” which is a crystalline version of zirconium that is inert when used in the body. Zirconia is very strong and has been used in other medical applications, such as orthopedic surgery for hip ceramic implants.
How are ceramic implants different from titanium?
Both zirconia and titanium are considered biocompatible materials and integrate with the jawbone in the process of osseointegration to provide a strong and stable foundation for your replacement tooth. They both come in a two piece design today, consisting of the implant body and a screw retained abutment/crown, using a carbon fiber screw. However, there are several key differences between zirconia and titanium implants.
- Perhaps one of the biggest differences is that ceramic dental implants are non-conductive and resistant to corrosion. They do not release any ions.
- Titanium is a metal that can sometimes lead to a grayish coloration in the gums of patients who have thin gums, whereas zirconia implants are tooth-colored and do not cause grayish look of the patients’ gingival line
- Zirconia has a lower plaque affinity as compared to titanium implants.
- Better blood circulation is observed around the gums of a zirconia dental implant as compared to titanium. This translates into more nourishment of the tissues surrounding the implant.
Other considerations about ceramic implants
The US FDA has approved both ceramic and titanium dental implants and both are considered safe options. Ceramic implants do cost more than titanium implants due to two main factors: the way they are manufactured and the way that they must be placed in your mouth. While the zirconia implants available today are stronger than they were in the past, they do carry a risk of fracturing, which is important to be aware of, especially if you grind and clench your teeth or have particularly powerful jaw muscles. In addition, because ceramic implants are typically one piece versus two pieces for titanium implants, the dentist has less flexibility in how they can place them in your mouth, so the quality of your jawbone and the number of implants you need may affect whether titanium or zirconia is best.
The team of dentists at Beverly Hills Dental Health and Wellness is here to help you decide whether zirconia implants are right for you and will discuss any other considerations that you should take into account when making your treatment choice.
Learn more in your personalized consultation
The most important takeaway point is that if you are facing a dental extraction or are missing a tooth, you have options! Whether it is a titanium or ceramic dental implant or another type of dental restoration, Dr. Sanda Moldovan and the dental team at Beverly Hills Dental Health and Wellness can restore your teeth in a way that looks and feels natural so that you can smile with confidence again. Call our Beverly Hills, CA office today at (310) 692-7855!
Learn what ceramic implants are and how they are different from titanium. Call Beverly Hills Dental Health and Wellness in Beverly Hills, CA (310) 692-7855