Zirconia ceramic dental implants or titanium dental implants? Here's what you should know!
Zirconia dental implants are a relatively new implant technology that can be considered for patients who wish to have an entirely metal-free restoration. Zirconium dioxide is a white ceramic material that is extremely durable and nearly indestructible – it’s the same material used in the latest hip & joint replacements. Zirconia abutments, whether fitted onto a titanium or zirconia implant body can provide an improved cosmetic appearance for the final crown restoration. However, titanium dental implants are still vastly preferred by dental implant specialists worldwide. Titanium dental implants have been studied over decades of clinical trials and research, show much greater capacity for integrating with the jawbone, and offer the best success rates for permanent tooth replacement. To balance the important factors of success rates and best quality aesthetics, fitting zirconia abutments onto titanium implants is an excellent option.
See below for an explanation of the pros & cons of titanium and zirconia dental implants!
Titanium & Zirconia Dental Implant Composition:
Dental implants are typically comprised of three parts:
- The dental implant body, which replaces the root of a missing tooth
- An abutment, which screws into the dental implant body
- A porcelain or ceramic permanent crown, which is the visible tooth replacement
The dental implant body is screwed into the jawbone, sits below the gumline, and is not visible. The abutment and crown are placed in a second trip after the implant fuses with the bone. The second stage of treatment, the gumline is opened to expose the dental implant body and the abutment is screwed into it. The abutment protrudes from the gumline like a post and impressions are then taken. From these impressions, the permanent crown is fabricated in the dental lab and cemented onto the abutment. Once the permanent crown is cemented, the dental implant restoration is complete.
What are the benefits of zirconia vs. titanium dental implants & abutments?
Titanium dental implants fitted with titanium abutments have an extremely high success rate (usually about 98% with an experienced implantologist). They are also the most affordable implant option and have very good cosmetic appearance. This is the type of dental implant used by the vast majority of clinics globally. The only downside is that since the titanium abutment is grey in color, this restoration will not have the same full translucency as natural teeth. (Although they do provide a very good natural appearance). For front teeth, especially in full natural light, a very faint shadow of the abutment may be visible. If cosmetic perfection is your goal, a zirconia abutment can be considered. For rear teeth replacements, this is virtually irrelevant cosmetic consideration.
Titanium dental implants fitted with zirconia abutments offer the best of both worlds: the same cinical success rates of titanium dental implants and the superior aesthetics and cosmetic appearance of zirconia abutments. Since zirconia ceramic is white, it better mimics the translucency of natural teeth. Nor will the permanent restoration have any shadow in the center of the tooth like a titanium abutment can in full natural light. However, they are more expensive than titanium implant/titanium abutment restorations.
Zirconia dental implants fitted with zirconia abutments are an intriguing new implant technology that show great promise. However, they have a much higher failure rate than titanium implants, very few dentists use them, and are also quite expensive. They can provide excellent aesthetics, and are ideal for patients whose primary concern is an entirely metal-free restoration. Some zirconia dental implants combine both the dental implant body and abutment in one solid piece which are placed together. The abutment will protrude though the gumline while the implant integrates with the jawbone (osseointegration), and the permanent crown fitted upon the second stage of treatment. Greater care to protect the implant must be taken during the healing period to ensure the best chance of success.