Comparing Titanium to Zirconia Implants
At Plymouth Ann Arbor Oral & Facial Surgery, we offer dental implants for your tooth replacement needs. Dental implants are a revolutionary treatment that involves the surgical implantation of posts into your jawbone that then provides support for your replacement teeth. For years, titanium has been used to make the posts. Today, however, alternatives to titanium are being researched. One such option showing promise is zirconia.
The Original Implant Material
Titanium is the original material used for modern-day implants. The use of titanium was the result of an accidental discovery in the 1950s by a Swedish orthopedic surgeon. As a part of studying bone healing and regeneration, the surgeon placed a titanium cylinder in the femur of a rabbit. When he went to remove the cylinder, he found that the bone had begun to fuse with it. The surgeon, Per-Ingvar Brånemark, took this information and continued further research that eventually led to the development of dental implants. He placed the first successful implants in 1965. Titanium has been used ever since. While titanium proved effective upon the first implantation, research and development have continued, even to this day. Numerous improvements have been made since the first implant was placed as well. The first implants were made of pure titanium. Pure titanium proved too weak, so a titanium alloy is now used. The additional metals greatly improved the stability and strength. Today, titanium implants have a 98% success rate and make up 95% of the total number of implants placed.
A Modern Alternative
In the continued research and development of dental implants, alternative materials are being looked into. While titanium dental implants have such a high success rate, they are not the ideal solution for everyone. Some patients have allergies to metals. Other patients express concerns over the placement of metals in their bodies. The quest for alternative materials eventually led to the discovery of zirconia, or zirconium oxide. Zirconia implants are commonly referred to as ceramic implants. While they are considered to be metal free, they do still contain trace amounts of metal, which are essential for the strength of the posts. Your jawbone fuses to zirconia implants just like it fuses to titanium. Research on zirconia has shown that they can be a very strong, very stable material for supporting replacement teeth.
Titanium Vs Zirconia
Titanium and zirconia both have their advantages as well as their disadvantages. Both of these materials are biocompatible. They also integrate well into your jawbone. However, they do have significant differences as well. Titanium implants have decades of research behind them, making them a more well-understood material. They are also available in one-piece or two-piece implants. Two-piece implants offer much greater versatility. The posts can be placed in the jaw at an angle, or slightly off-center, which enables them to take full advantage of your jawbone while still allowing the crowns to be in perfect alignment. Zirconia implants, on the other hand, do not have the same amount of research behind them, but they do have their unique advantages. These implants are considered to be metal-free, making them a better option for those with allergies too, or concerns about, metal. The posts are also white rather than silver. This means that if you have thin gums or you suffer gum recession, the posts will not be noticeable. Zirconia is only available as one-piece implants, however. This means that they have to be placed precisely in the jaw, which makes them much less versatile. Titanium has proven itself to be a very successful material. With the addition of zirconia, however, treatment with dental implants is becoming available to more individuals suffering tooth loss. For more information on the materials used for dental implants, call Plymouth Ann Arbor Oral & Facial Surgery today at (734) 455-0710.