The earliest modern dental implants emerged from the discovery that titanium fuses with bone tissue. That finding allowed scientists to develop screw-like structures that integrated with the jaw bone and served as replacement tooth roots, holding crowns or even dentures to fill in gaps left behind by missing teeth.
Over the past several decades, dental implants have become quite a popular treatment for tooth loss. These appliances offer a level of stability and durability that is unmatched by other treatment options, like bridges and dentures.
As dental implants have become more popular, the technology and device design has advanced significantly. An oral surgeon now has a number of options to meet a patient’s unique needs.
More recently, implant dentistry has expanded to include devices made from materials other than titanium, such as zirconium. This material, in an oxide form, was first used in hip replacements in the 1970s. This use was a precursor to other purposes for this material. Zirconium dental implants were developed in the 1990s, but they were only available to European patients until recently. Now, zirconium implants have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are available to American patients, as well. Many of the major dental implant manufacturers have introduced zirconium devices in their product lines.
Some patients prefer zirconium because of some of the materials specific characteristics. First of all, zirconium is white, which makes it look more like a natural tooth root than a titanium implant. Furthermore, zirconium resists corrosion and it is hypoallergenic, allowing patients with metal allergies to take advantage of dental implants.
When patients are planning for dental implant placement, they have different options for types and materials of implants, thanks to significant advances in dental implant technology. Discuss your choices with our oral surgeon for guidance on what device will work best for you. If you have been reluctant to consider titanium implants, you may want to explore zirconium.