Dental Implants – Titanium vs Zirconia
December 21, 2020
Dental implants have revolutionized the replacement of missing teeth, and since the 1960s, titanium implants have been industry standard. Still, growing concerns over the biocompatibility and auto-immune potential of titanium in susceptible individuals have caused an increased demand for non-metal implant materials.
Not sure what the differences are between titanium and zirconia? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each type of implant so that you can make an informed choice.
What are Titanium Dental Implants?
Titanium dental implants are a “traditional” type of implant that has been widely used since 1978. Titanium became the first choice for dental implants because the metal is excellent for osseointegration.
This term refers to the ability of bone to grow against the implant and stabilizing it in place.
Pros of Titanium Implants
Here are some reasons to consider titanium implants:
- Titanium implants fuse sufficiently to the bone.
- These implants are strong, stable, lightweight, durable, and can provide decades of use before they need replacement.
- Patients can depend on titanium implants for their high success rate and long-term use.
Cons of Titanium Implants
Despite the long history of success with titanium dental implants, there are also drawbacks to consider.
- If you have a nickel allergy, titanium implants probably won’t work for you. The titanium used in dental implants is an alloy that incorporates nickel, which will likely trigger an uncomfortable allergic reaction.
- Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to develop auto-immune diseases (or to see those conditions worsen) by introducing implants containing titanium/nickel.
- Some patients report galvanic toxicity symptoms if implants start to break down or if other types of metal are already present in the mouth.
What are Zirconia Dental Implants?
Because titanium implants are contraindicated for some allergic patients or may be susceptible to auto-immune conditions, dentists sought to develop an alternative that could provide comparable results. Zirconia became the material of choice. Zirconia implants first became approved for use in Europe in 2008 and then in Canada in 2013.
Pros of Zirconia Implants
- Although there is a much longer history with titanium implants, studies have shown that zirconia implants form a stable connection to the bone equivalent to titanium implants (Manzano et al. 2014), resulting in similar success rates.
- Currently, no reports are indicating that zirconia poses any risk as an allergen.
- Unlike its titanium counterpart, zirconia implants shouldn’t pose any danger from an auto-immune standpoint since it’s not a metal.
- From an aesthetic perspective, zirconia is superior based on its ability to blend in with surrounding teeth.
Cons of Zirconia Implants
- Despite its resiliency, zirconia is more susceptible to micro-fractures due to a naturally higher degree of elasticity of the materials.
- Zirconia implants come at a higher cost compared to titanium implants.
- There is less data on the durability and longevity of zirconia dental implants versus titanium dental implants.
When comparing dental implant options, titanium has been in use for much longer and remains a cost-effective approach compared to zirconia. However, studies show zirconia has proven to be an excellent option for patients looking for a metal-free implant option.
Still unsure which dental implant option is right for your smile? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Freiberg at Health First Dental, and he will be happy to determine the best approach for your unique needs.