Frequently Asked Questions About Zirconia Dental Implants

Nov 07, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions About Zirconia Dental Implants
Today’s most commonly used dental implant material is titanium, a corrosion-resistant, high strength, biocompatible and silver-colored metal.

Today’s most commonly used dental implant material is titanium, a corrosion-resistant, high strength, biocompatible and silver-colored metal. Although this traditional dental prosthetic has a very high success rate, some patients are concerned about metal sensitivities and metal allergies. Fortunately, there is an alternative – zirconia dental implants.

In this article, we will address some of the frequently asked questions about this type of ceramic dental implant.

What Is a Zirconia Dental Implant?

A zirconia dental implant is a metal-free, allergy-free, white ceramic material that makes an ideal tooth root replacement and is capped with a ceramic crown. The crown is the replacement tooth and is connected to the implant with an abutment. Zirconia implants are used to replace missing front teeth and molars and for full mouth restorations. 

Zirconia is a biocompatible material which means it is accepted by the body and integrates well into the jawbone. Just like titanium implants, zirconia becomes tightly fused with the jaw in a process known as osseointegration. However, zirconia has a smoother surface than titanium, so the osseointegration healing process takes longer.

Zirconia implants were FDA approved in the USA in 2007.

Are Zirconia Implant Parts Different From Titanium Implant Parts?

Yes, they are. Typically, zirconia implants are one solid piece where the implant screw and abutment are fused together or a two-piece design where the abutment is cemented to the zirconia implant base.

Titanium implants always come in at least three metal pieces – the implant screw, the titanium implant base and the metal screw that attaches the abutment to the base.

What Are The Advantages of Zirconia Dental Implants?

Among the many advantages of zirconia dental implants are:

  • They help to maintain better oral health because there are reduced bacteria and plaque adhesion with this gum tissue-friendly material.
  • The aesthetic white color is just like natural teeth. In the rare event of gum recession, zirconia implants will not reveal gray shadows or lines around the gum. If someone with titanium implants shows a lot of gum tissue when they smile, a line of gray metal may be seen.
  • They are bioinert (non-reactive), and so there is a reduced chance of a negative response in the body and less inflammation around the gums.
  • No metal rust or corrosion.
  • There are no known side effects.
  • No allergic response.
  • Long-term success with a survival rate of 98.2% after ten years of placement.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

Despite the many advantages, there are a few drawbacks that are worth considering.

  • While zirconia dental implants provide strength and durability, they are not as strong as titanium. Studies have shown that fractures can occur, although it is a rare event. To overcome the remote possibility they might fracture, zirconia dental implants are often wider than their titanium counterparts. This may mean bone grafting to build up sufficient bone volume to support the implant.
  • There are limitations with the one-piece systems. Namely, the design is less flexible. With titanium, you can use angled implants which gives more scope for the position and angle of the artificial crown. 
  • Generally, zirconia implants cost more than titanium tooth replacements. 
  • Titanium implants are known to last for 20 years or more. Zirconia is a relatively new treatment, and so the lifespan is unknown. Long-term data is not available yet. However, if properly cared for, they are expected to last for 15-20 years or more, similar to titanium implants.

Why Are Zirconia Dental Implants Referred To As Ceramic Dental Implants?

We need to get into a little bit of chemistry here but do not worry; it’s nothing too complex. Zirconia is derived from zirconium oxide, which comes from zirconium, a greyish-white, soft, malleable metal. However, when zirconium is converted into zirconium oxide, it becomes something completely different, a ceramic with all the properties we associate with ceramics. For example, it is hard, tough, has no electrical conductivity and has a high melting temperature.

Ceramics have been used for decades in medicine, mainly for prosthetics, with great success.

Are Zirconia Implants Safe?

Yes, they are. They have been CE (Conformitè Europëenne) approved in Europe for more than 16 years, and FDA approved in the United States for just over 14 years.

Choosing Your Dental Implants

The decision to use zirconia or titanium dental implants should be discussed thoroughly with your dental reconstruction surgeon.

Ready to transform your smile with implants? Get in touch with Chesterfield Dentistry today if you want to know more about zirconia or titanium dental implants or if you would like to book a consultation. Our friendly and experienced team will be more than happy to help. Simply call (314) 469 6420 or book online.