Zirconia vs titanium implants, both options have advantages, disadvantages, and certain properties that make them differently suitable depending on the bone density, the number of missing teeth, and the implant position. First, let me clarify what are dental implants. They are artificial tooth roots that provide support for dental prostheses (crowns, bridges, and dentures) to replace a missing tooth or teeth. The dentist or oral surgeon inserts dental implants into the jawbone where they fuse with the surrounding bone tissue (osseointegration). Then, he/she attaches the abutment and dental prosthesis to the implant body after the healing period (4 to 6 months).
Zirconia vs Titanium Implants
Dental implants are made of titanium or zirconia. Titanium implants are very popular because they have been used for many years and well proven in terms of body compatibility, stability, and durability. They consist of 2 pieces:
- The implant body: it is inserted into the jawbone (under the gumline) and fuses with the surrounding bone tissue (osseointegration).
- The abutment: it connects the implant body with the dental prosthesis (crowns, bridges, and dentures).
Zirconia implants are one piece. This means that the implant body and the abutment are connected. Compared to titanium implants, zirconia implants haven’t been used long enough to understand its long-term success.
Zirconia vs Titanium Implants: Material
Zirconia, also known as zirconium oxide, is a very hard ceramic. It is used in dentistry in the manufacture of crowns, bridges, and dental implants. Zirconia is biocompatible, aesthetic, strong, and very expensive.
Titanium is a metal with a silver color that is used in the medical field for decades, including hip and knee replacements, and dental implants. Titanium is strong as steel and 40% lighter in weight. it is known for its biocompatibility, high strength, and corrosion resistance.
Zirconia vs Titanium Implants: Biocompatibility and Osseointegration
Zirconia and titanium implants are compatible with the human body. They fuse with the jawbone and performs the same function as the original tooth roots. This process is known as osseointegration which involves a direct fusion between titanium and zirconia implants and living bone tissue. This process usually takes 4-6 months to complete, depending on the bone density. Zirconia implants are metal-free and suitable for patients who are allergic to metals.
Zirconia vs Titanium Implants: Strength
Titanium has good mechanical properties compared to other metals. Titanium is an ideal material for implants because it resists fracture in places with high chewing load. Also, zirconia implants are very hard and strong. However, ceramics are not resistant to breakage as metals. So, they may fracture in places with high chewing load.
Zirconia vs Titanium Implants: Aesthetic
If the patient has a thin bone or thin gum, titanium implants may develop a grey line under the gum, causing an aesthetic problem. The color of zirconia implants is very similar to the color of natural teeth. Therefore, they are suitable in places that have a thin gum, thin bone, or a possible gum recession and the implant could shine through.
Zirconia vs Titanium Implants: The Placement
Titanium implants consist of 2 pieces: the implant body and the abutment (straight or angulated). So, they give the dentist more control during the placement process. In some cases, the dentist needs to place the implant body at a slight angle because of the bone density and the optimal position of the implant. Then, he/she uses a straight or angulated abutment to make the smile line and bite alignment more natural.
The placement of zirconia implants is more challenging because the implant body and the abutment are connected (one piece). Now, 2 piece zirconia implants are available. However, they have not yet been widely tested. In the case of full-arch dental implants, titanium implants are the better choice.
Zirconia vs Titanium Implants: Durability
Titanium implants have been used for many years. Therefore, they are well proven in terms of stability and durability. Titanium implants have a long-term success rate of 95%. They can last 20 years on average. Zirconia implants haven’t been used long enough to understand its long-term success.