Dental implants are a great alternative if you’re missing some teeth. But metal implants might not sit well with everyone. Since dentists screw them into the jawbone, some patients might be wary of the effects this might have. This concern is especially since the jaw is close to the brain. Some may even worry if the implant material might disintegrate and accumulate in the body over time.
Metal implants are typically made of titanium, which is usually chosen for its ability to adapt into the body. Despite numerous trials done on them, there’s still contention on their usage, particularly for those with titanium allergies. But while this is a thing, titanium allergies are quite rare, according to Saurabh Gupta.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative for those who are worried about an allergic reaction. Zirconia—also known as ceramic—is quickly becoming a viable option. To make a dental implant, you need a material that is both hard, durable, and can bond to the jawbone. Zirconia can do all this without any metal present.
But are these metal-free implants better than titanium? Let’s delve deeper.
Before making a choice, consider this
Aside from their hardiness, there are a few things you need to consider when choosing between titanium and zirconia. Other elements to think about are whether they are stable enough if they break easily, and whether they fit the dental procedure.
- Stability. Primary implant stability, according to the Journal of Dental Implants, is defined as the “measure of the anchorage quality of an implant in the alveolar bone.” Essentially, this means how much an implant can hook itself to the jaw without any signs of loosening.
- Brittleness. You don’t want to have your implants break while they’re in your jaw, as it can cause further injury to your jaw and gums. An excellent dental implant can stay in the jaw for a while without any signs of wear or breakage.
- Suitability. Finally, the implant must be able to fit all aspects of the procedure to ensure maximum results. An incorrectly placed or fitted implant might require a second procedure to fix, which decreases its efficacy.
How do metal-free implants fare against titanium implants?
If we consider these criteria, how well do zirconia implants do against titanium? Not as well, unfortunately. Zirconia implants typically come in one piece—that is, with the crown attached to the screw—which can hamper its anchoring power. This factor is why ceramic implants take a while to heal under the gums, usually around six months.
The one-piece structure also makes it a little harder to adjust during the procedure, which can add to further complications as it stays in place. And while zirconia is harder than most materials, it’s nonetheless still prone to breakage. Gupta, in Zirconia Vs Titanium Implants – Deciding Factors, notes that the material forms micro-cracks during adjustment, which can lead to fracturing. This problem is especially magnified in the case of implants with a small diameter.
But while ceramic implants are riskier than your run-of-the-mill titanium, they shouldn’t be discarded altogether. After all, those allergic to the metal still could benefit from it regardless. However, if you don’t have any sensitivities, it’s best to stick to your regular implants. Your safety is what counts.