What are Zirconia Implants and Why Might Patients Choose Them?

Zirconium ImplantsWith the rapid growth of implant technology and the increasing sophistication of implant placement protocols, there are now more options than ever before for patients requiring dental implants. One such option is a zirconia implant. While many implants are still crafted with titanium, implants made of zirconia are rising in demand for a number of reasons. Read on to find out if zirconia implants are the right choice for you.

As the physical effects of long-term metal exposure continue to be researched, patients are growing increasingly cognizant of the metals they allow to be placed within their body. For individuals who prefer to avoid putting metal in their body, zirconia implants may be a viable alternative because zirconia is comprised of a 100% metal-free crystal material.

Patients may choose to avoid metal for a number of reasons. First, constant metal exposure could be a contributing factor to autoimmune disease. Moreover, such exposure can cause adverse effects or exacerbate pre-existing conditions including chronic fatigue, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.

Additionally, titanium implants may cause oral galvanic toxicity, a dangerous condition where electric currents from metal in the mouth interactions with saliva and with other metals in one’s environment. This is turn causes negative bodily effects upon the brain and nervous system.

Also, individuals with metal allergies may prefer avoiding placing titanium metal in their jaw bone. Allergies to titanium specifically are quite rare. Yet such an allergy may cause the body to reject the implant entirely.

Another reason zirconia implants are gaining in popularity is that zirconia implants are quite aesthetically pleasing. Traditional metal implants may cause the crown to take on a faint grey hue, and the area near the gum line may also appear grey. However, the soft tissue around zirconia tends to match the color of soft tissue surrounding natural teeth. The color of soft tissue surrounding titanium implants, however, differs more conspicuously from the color of soft tissue surrounding natural teeth.

Finally, when compared with pure titanium, zirconia appears to have a lower affinity for plaque. Because of zirconia’s comparatively low bacterial colonization potential, zirconia implants may be a better option for patients susceptible to bacterial infection and peri-implantitis (an infection of the gums surrounding implants).

Because zirconia implants are a fairly new implant technology, studies are not yet fully conclusive. But so far, zirconia implants appear to be a feasible alternative, especially for patients with health or aesthetic concerns.