Are Metal Free Dental Implants Better than Titanium Implants?
Owing to their biocompatibility, high density and ability to withstand abuse, zirconia bioceramics are a far superior product when compared to metal for implantation in the human body. They are also an excellent choice as a dental implant material.
All-ceramic dental crown placed over an all-ceramic dental implant look and function very much like the natural tooth and they provide a top-to-bottom metal-free teeth replacement solution. This eliminates concerns of allergies and biocompatibility issues thereby lessening potential for damage to the immune system and adverse health problems. The term ‘bioceramics’ applies to a wide range of materials that, when compared to traditionally used metal implants, are harder and have higher temperature resistance, strength, very high density and excellent resistance to corrosion. These properties make ceramics invaluable for use in the oral environment where high temperature, corrosion and constant abrasion is ever present.
The Benefits of Zirconia Over Metal
While most dental implants are made of titanium, materials such as aluminum and vanadium are often alloyed or blended with the titanium which can create issues of allergy, galvanism and potentially impair the immune system in a number of ways. When differing metals are placed in the mouth or directly into the jaw bone as with a dental implant, those metals will eventually begin to release by-products from the oxidization process and are then circulated throughout the body.
For over five years zirconia dental implants have been available in the United States as an alternative to metal implants and they have been used quite successfully in Europe for over fifteen years. The advantage of these implants is that they are ceramic, and thus there is no concern of corrosion, galvanic/electrical activity or response to electromagnetic radiation. Zirconia (Zirconium Oxide) is not to be confused with Zirconium which is a metal found just below titanium on the periodic table. Zirconium oxide is the product now being used for the production of dental implants, it is the ceramic phase of Zirconium and it is called Zirconia.
Overall qualities of Zirconia dental implants include:
Biocompatibility: zirconium is an inert material with very low allergic potential.
Strength: The strength of the dental implant is exceptional compared to metal implants.
Metal-free: no corrosion, no galvanism effect, no metallic taste and no electronic disturbances.
Bone to Implant Contact: Very high bone contact to the implant, above 75 percent.
Considerations Prior to an Implant
When patients exhibit overall healthfulness and are generally of a robust constitution, they tend to tolerate implants very well, but before considering something as serious as an implant procedure, a full health assessment is in order. In conjunction with assessing the patient’s physical state and ability to heal from surgery, most holistic dental practices are also concerned about the acupuncture meridian upon which the implant is placed. Every tooth in the mouth is located on an acupuncture meridian, and therefore can potentially affect specific organs, muscles, vertebrae and tissues. Zirconia implants are preferable over metal implants for their biocompatibility factors but also very importantly they do not interfere with energy flow along one’s acupuncture meridians. Electrical skin resistance tests are used to assess an individual’s energy system by measuring the energy meridian flows at specific accupoints on the body. These tests have shown that zirconia implants unlike metal implants do not interfere with the energy meridian system.
Another consideration in whether or not to place implants for a particular patient has to do with whether or not they grind their teeth which might cause damage to the zirconia over time. In such cases nightguard is integrated in the overall treatment plan. Habits such as smoking or chewing tobacco may also negatively affect the long-term success of implants both ceramic and metal. And ultimately, patients with implants must be diligent about maintaining good oral hygiene.
How it Works
A reproduction of a tooth’s root is inserted in the jaw and over time, the implanted “root” bonds with the bone of the jaw. In other words, ceramic dental implants readily allow the bone to grow right up to the implant surface and is held securely in place by the bone. This process typically takes four to six months to completely heal before the permanent crown can be made.
Implants are integrated into the mouth in two basic stages.
First, a dental implant root is placed in the mouth. This root is often shaped like a screw. After surgery, the root will slowly integrate with the jaw bone in a stage called osseointegration which can take four to six months before the restoration(crown) phase of the process. Zirconia Implants have a very high bone-to-implant contact and some studies have shown up to 80% bone attachment to the surface of zirconia dental implants.
Once the osseointegration is complete, the dentist will take an impression to make a mold of your implant and other teeth. The mold will be sent to the dental laboratory and a crown is made just like on a natural tooth. The process is complete when the crown is returned and cemented on the implant. Since this crown is also made of zirconia it is usually indistinguishable from the surrounding natural teeth.
Caring for Your Implant after Surgery And Beyond
During the entire process, it is important for the patient to follow to all of the dentist’s instructions regarding oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing are key to the success of the osseointegration, and sloppy oral habits can potentially compromise a dental implantation surgery and the ultimate success of the implant.
Once your implant is fully integrated, caring for your teeth is very much like taking care of your natural teeth. Correct oral care must be followed including brushing and flossing at least twice a day. Ceramic dental implants will give you many years of use if cared for properly.