Is There Such a Thing as Metal-Free Dental Implants?
Zirconium implants offer an alternative for patients with metal allergies
Interest in metal-free dental restorations has been growing a lot in recent years, and now many people are wondering about their options for replacing missing teeth without using metal. The best option for replacing a missing tooth is of course a dental implant, which provides a permanent, extremely natural-looking and natural-feeling solution. Today there are two main types of dental implants, titanium implants which use metal and zirconium implants which are completely metal-free. Each type has its own advantages.
Benefits of Zirconium Implants
Sometimes called ceramic steel, zirconium is a highly durable natural ceramic product that includes absolutely no metals or alloys. It is commonly used for dental reconstructions such as bridges, and it can be used as a dental implant peg and then topped with crown just like a traditional metal dental implant. After years of use in Europe, it has recently been approved for use in dental implants in the US by the FDA.
Many people lean towards zirconium because it is:
- Natural: Zirconium is the material of choice for holistic dentists because it is not known to cause any risk of allergic reactions, yet it is every bit as strong as titanium.
- Hygienic: Research has shown that zirconium retains less plaque than titanium, which may help protect patients from risk of gum disease.
- Bright: Zirconium is a white ceramic material, which does not tint the implant crown or create a darkened look at the gum line like titanium might.
Benefits of Titanium Implants
Titanium implants are the standard choice in dental implants today for one very important reason: titanium is an osteophilic (bone-loving) material. Through a process known as osseointegration, the titanium implant peg bonds with the bone in the jaw, creating a strong, permanent support for the artificial tooth while also helping to arrest and even reverse bone loss in the jaw that would otherwise occur when a tooth is lost. While some studies in Germany and the US have reported that zirconium also integrates with bone, research on this material is not as complete as research on titanium. We have 35+ years of research on titanium implants compared to 10+ on zirconium implants.
The osseointegrative benefit of titanium should probably make it the first choice of patients, unless they have a concern about metal allergies. Very few patients have metal allergies, and the risk of allergy can be further reduced by using a pure titanium implant rather than an alloy that may contain problematic metals like nickel.
To learn more about your options for dental implants, please contact California Dental Group today for a consultation.