Although the earliest dental implants were made of titanium, due to the fortuitous discovery of that metal’s osseointegration properties, patients now have another option for dental implant materials – zirconium.
In serving as the base for a replacement tooth, the zirconium-based implant has mechanics similar to a titanium one. An oral surgeon places the zirconium implant into the jaw, and over the course of several months, the implant fuses with the bone.
As such, a replacement tooth with a zirconium implant works in the same way as one with a titanium implant. Both devices are far superior to tooth replacement alternatives that do not replicate the tooth’s root in addition to the crown.
Dental implants in general are more stable, lifelike and functional than other options like bridges and dentures.
Despite the similarities, zirconium implants do differ from their titanium counterparts in a number of important ways, though.
Although pure zirconium is technically a metal, based on its location on the periodic table, in zirconia—the form used for dental implants—its appearance is more similar to a ceramic. Because zirconium is white, it is more aesthetically pleasing and natural-looking. In fact, zirconium implants are almost visually indistinguishable from a biological tooth’s root.
Another quality of zirconia is its resistance to corrosion, which does not apply to titanium. Because titanium can be subjected to corrosion, although highly unlikely, the longevity and durability may be theoretically less than a zirconium one.
Zirconium implants also are hypoallergenic, giving patients with titanium allergies an alternative for dental implants.
Zirconium does have some radioactive isotopes, which is a concern to some patients, but that radioactivity presents minimal risk. In fact, the radiation exposure from a single zirconium implant is actually less than that of general background exposure found in the environment.
When planning for dental implants, ask your oral surgeon about the different materials that are available to you. Zirconium dental implants may be the solution that works for you. Contact Chicago’s premiere dental surgery clinic, ORA® Oral Surgery & Implant Studio, at 312-328-9000 to learn more.