Zirconia vs Titanium Dental Implants

What is better? Zirconia vs Titanium Dental Implants: Your Lincoln Dentist answers

It is undeniable that the introduction of dental implants for a single or multiple-tooth replacement has improved the quality of life for countless patients over the past 25 years.

Less desirable removable prostheses like partial dentures or fixed prostheses like traditional dental bridgework which are prone to fracture or recurrent decay were once the only viable options for patients who were faced with losing one or more teeth. Today, we are able to give patients a fully functional and beautiful aesthetic result with a very high long-term success rate.

Partial Dentures Your Lincoln Dentist answers

Due to the high success rates and relatively low risk of allergy or complications, titanium has been the primary material used for implant posts. Titanium has and still does have a very high biocompatibility rating as well as great results in osseointegration after implant placement. Unfortunately for some patients, titanium is not an option due to metal sensitivity or allergies. For those who have metal allergies, it is advisable to have MELISA testing prior to surgery. To be sure they do not have an allergy to titanium.

MELISA testing (Memory Lymphocyte Immunostimulation Assay) is a type of test that uses a blood sample to test for various allergies. This included a titanium allergy. It is not a common allergy, with about 4% of subjects tested having positive results. For those who have a titanium allergy, the particles that are released during corrosion of the metal cause the body’s immune system to attack. This can contribute to a cascade effect on the rest of the body. The MELISA test is scientifically proven and can diagnose a titanium allergy as well as the severity of the allergic response.

Your Lincoln Dentist answers that it is important to note that for the vast majority of patients, titanium dental implants are a viable option. For those few who have metal allergies, there are alternative options available.

Dental implants example Your Lincoln Dentist answers

Alternative Implant Materials

Your Lincoln Dentist answers

Due to its strength, high level of biocompatibility and excellent results in osseointegration, titanium remains the top choice for the vast majority of patients. However, modern improvements in zirconia and ceramic dental implants have made them legitimate treatment options for patients who wish to replace their teeth with dental implants but have metal sensitivity. Patients do need to be aware that Zirconia implants do have metal but in lesser amounts than titanium implants.

As an alternative material to titanium with regard to dental implants, zirconia implants with a roughened surface are preferable to smooth ceramic implants in clinical studies due to superior osseointegration. No difference has been noted in studies examining the differences in osseointegration of a surface treated zirconia implant vs titanium implant. Your Lincoln Dentist answers another benefit to a zirconia implant over a titanium implant is the translucent appearance which lends a more natural look, especially when replacing front teeth.

clean dental setting

Zirconia has been shown to allow less plaque formation compared to titanium implants, which can fail due to peri-implantitis or mucositis which stem from the overgrowth of specific pathogenic bacteria associated with periodontal disease. Titanium implants can initiate a host inflammatory response from the inevitable corrosion of the metal which releases titanium particles that interact with the immune system. Zirconia implants pose no such threat to the immune response.

In general, titanium is still preferred over zirconia because of the strength of the material. Unfortunately, there is still a limited amount of research on this topic. There are a few factors that can influence zirconia implant failure rates. In general, research supports that a one-piece zirconia implant is preferable to a two-piece zirconia implant. Two-piece zirconia implants have been shown to be weaker and more likely to fracture or crack. The manner in which the material is processed in the lab can influence the aging factors as well as the osseointegration potential of the material. Post-placement polishing that can heat the material up can also accelerate the aging of the material, leading to the breakdown and failure of zirconia implants.

At this point, we do not have the same kind of longitudinal research for success rates of zirconia dental implants that we have for titanium implants. With ever-advanced techniques in dental implant design, more alternative materials are available for patients who may not feel comfortable with titanium as the only option.

Zirconia has been shown to allow less plaque formation compared to titanium implants, which can fail due to peri-implantitis or mucositis which stem from the overgrowth of specific pathogenic bacteria associated with periodontal disease. Titanium implants can initiate a host inflammatory response from the inevitable corrosion of the metal which releases titanium particles that interact with the immune system. Zirconia implants pose no such threat to the immune response.

In general, titanium is still preferred over zirconia because of the strength of the material. Unfortunately, there is still a limited amount of research on this topic. There are a few factors that can influence zirconia implant failure rates. In general, research supports that a one-piece zirconia implant is preferable to a two-piece zirconia implant. Two-piece zirconia implants have been shown to be weaker and more likely to fracture or crack. The manner in which the material is processed in the lab can influence the aging factors as well as the osseointegration potential of the material. Post-placement polishing that can heat the material up can also accelerate the aging of the material, leading to the breakdown and failure of zirconia implants.

At this point, we do not have the same kind of longitudinal research for success rates of zirconia dental implants that we have for titanium implants. With ever-advanced techniques in dental implant design, more alternative materials are available for patients who may not feel comfortable with titanium as the only option.

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So, it is better to have a Titanium or Zirconia implant?

Your Lincoln Dentist Answers . . .

  1. Zirconia implants cost $4,000 in comparison to $1,800 for Titanium  implant.
  2. The research does not have enough data on the longevity of Zirconia and its health effects.
  3. Zirconia implants at this time could be a better choice for highly esthetic areas but for health concerns, the research findings are not clear yet.

If patients are concerned about the health effects of dental implants, choosing to do a ceramic bridge or biocompatible partial could be better options.


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