Metal versus Ceramic Dental Implants
Titanium metal was determined the choice material for implant designs when implants came on the market in the 1980s. When titanium implants were installed correctly, they were thought to withstand the workload of the human jaw most similarly to natural teeth. This metal had a lower risk of complications compared to other metals, and it boasted the best bone integration success rate. Titanium is the “default” material that you will find in practices that perform implant surgeries. It is less expensive, and for the majority of the population, it adequately meets patients’ needs.
Low Risk versus No Risk
There are some downsides, naturally. “Low-risk” does not mean “no-risk.” Implant complications usually involve infection at the site or weakness due to failed integration (merging with bone like a tooth’s root). Implants are a little higher-maintenance at the crown; careful cleaning must become a habit so bacteria do not grow in the microscopic crevices between implant segments.
Allergies to Metal
Also, a small percentage of the population is severely allergic to titanium. The allergy can be tested for ahead of time. Holistic-minded patients and those seeking to detox and heal their physical health should be aware that titanium, like any metal, will find its way into the bloodstream. As long as titanium implants are installed in a patient’s jaw, presence of metal in the blood and underlying health disruptions can be permanent.
Metal-free zirconia ceramic implants are newer to the U.S. market, but have been the choice implants of Europe and Canada for a while. American biological dentists have long been awaiting an alternative to titanium. Patients also seeking this alternative are heaving sighs of relief, particularly those few who are physiologically sensitive to metal.
A Zirconia implant is slightly more expensive than titanium, but the cost covers tangible benefits that titanium cannot promise. Zirconia is just as strong as — if not stronger than — titanium or titanium alloy. It is similar to human bone in structure, thus providing the strength needed to withstand the jaw’s pressure of daily movement when chewing or biting. Because it contains no metal, the body does not reject it as a foreign object or a toxin. This creates a stronger bond and integration into the facial and jaw bones, which means the implant will last a very long time — a lifetime, if installation is done well.
The absence of metal also promotes better health in the surrounding tissues. Zirconia is electrochemically inert and attracts less plaque than titanium. Fewer, if any, bacterial infections occur if the implant and crown are carefully maintained with daily hygiene.
Also, sometimes titanium implants will show off slight grayish discoloration around the gum line. Zirconia implants are all white, just like a natural tooth, and will not cause aesthetic disturbances. Dr. Boyajian has over 20 years experience with placing and restoring dental implants cosmetically and holistically. And patient satisfaction tends to be higher with ceramic as well.
The Holistic Approach
As a holistically-minded dentist, I prefer using zirconia over titanium any day… if you couldn’t tell. But I offer both, and many patients are content to settle for titanium if they have tested negative for allergies. Not to mention, implants by themselves are not an end-all solution. Restoring a dying tooth successfully and preventing the need for an implant in the first place is certainly a better route to take. With the aid of ozone gas and a dental laser, restoring a tooth to health is more viable than many people (some other dentists included) think! On the other hand, sometimes implants are the best way to go. I will answer questions and provide all the information patients need so they can make the best decision for themselves. For more information on dental implants, including metal free zirconia ceramic implants call us today to schedule an appointment at (310) 670-6944.
Dr. A. J. Boyajian, Los Angeles