For over half a century, physicians have known about osseointegration, an interesting property of titanium that allows it to knit together perfectly with natural bones. Some years later, this discovery led to titanium joint replacements and dental implants, implants where the root is replaced with a titanium screw and capped with a ceramic crown.
Unfortunately, a few people have some issues with titanium implants. Namely:
• An allergic or otherwise negative reaction to the metal.
• On rare occasions, the titanium screw can be visible through the gums
• Metal is highly conductive, and so depending on where and how the implant is seated it can potentially become very uncomfortable when eating or drinking something very cold or hot.
Despite these issues, titanium was the only option available for decades, but that’s changed recently with the introduction of zirconium implants. By itself, zirconium is a transition metal that sits in the same column as titanium and thus gives the implants the same osseointegration properties, but instead of the pure metal they use zirconium oxide, ZrO2, which means the implants are no more metallic than the iron in your blood. In addition, zirconium oxide is as white as any ceramic, making the whole implant an appropriate shade of white from end to end.
Still, zirconium implants do have some pitfalls of their own:
• Zirconium implants are still new, and as such they have a few design kinks that need working out.
• The implants are all one piece, which means that if the base goes into the bone at an odd angle (either by accident or because that’s where the bone is) the crown can’t be specially made to compensate.
Either way, both types of implant carry the same benefits over dentures: easier to clean, easier to bite and chew, less jaw degeneration, and a more natural look and feel. Which one you decide on may depend on your situation and preferences, but either way you have a lot to gain from going with a dental implant.
Posted in: dental implant information