Titanium dental implants have been available since the mid-1960s as a reputable tooth replacement option. They support a wide array of dental restorations, such as crowns, bridges, and dentures.
While titanium dental implants have been available for decades, zirconia is a relatively new material. But is it a better option for a tooth replacement?
Zirconia and Titanium Implants
Traditionally, titanium alloys have been the standard metal used for dental implants because of their similarity to materials used for other implants throughout the body. It’s a durable material compatible with the human body and rarely causes an allergic reaction.
Zirconia dental implants are a relatively new option. Patients wanting to avoid placing traditional metals in their bodies often choose zirconia. This material is durable but less resistant to breakage than titanium dental implants.
Titanium Dental Implants
Titanium implants have proven their value as a dental restoration tool. But tradition isn’t the only reason many patients and dentists prefer this material for dental implants.
Dental implants must successfully integrate with the jawbone. Titanium implants are highly biocompatible and successfully fuse with bone to create a secure post. Compared to other materials, titanium is less likely to break due to the daily pressures of biting and chewing, making this material a long-lasting choice.
Dentists have had decades to study dental implants and their success rates. The current success rate of titanium dental implants is approximately 97%.1 The average lifespan of a titanium implant is about 30 years, and more.
Disadvantages of Titanium Dental Implants
Although most titanium implant cases are successful, the implant can cause an inflammatory reaction. Another downside to titanium is the dark metal. In some cases, it is noticeable in patients with thin gums. This discoloration may be unappealing for some patients concerned with creating a highly aesthetic smile.
Zirconia Dental Implants
Zirconia is becoming an increasingly popular choice for dental implants. They have unique properties that titanium implants don’t.
Zirconia dental implants are naturally hypoallergenic, meaning patients have a lower chance of experiencing inflammation after placement. Bacteria are also less likely to stick to zirconium implants, leading to better oral health.
Zirconia integrates well with bone, and the soft tissues have fewer reactions when compared to titanium. This type of implant is white and won’t show through the gingiva (gum) like titanium implants can.
Disadvantages of Zirconia Dental Implants
While zirconia implants are a suitable alternative to titanium, knowing the disadvantages of this material is vital for you to make an informed decision.
Zirconia implants have progressed throughout the past decade but have fewer options. There are fewer sizes to choose from than titanium, which may not work for complex cases.
This alternative to titanium is also less durable. Zirconia implants have a greater risk of fracturing, leading to more extensive problems in the long run.
In a 2023 study, the survival rate of one-piece zirconia implants after 8 years was 89.6%, which is significantly lower than the survival rate of titanium implants. 2 Another 2023 study shows no difference between titanium and zirconia implants in terms of marginal bone loss, bleeding on probing, plaque index, and pink esthetic scores. 3 Therefore, further study is necessary to fully understand whether zirconia is a viable alternative to titanium dental implants for all patients.
How to Choose Between Zirconia and Titanium Implants
Titanium remains the standard material for dental implants as a tooth replacement option. Both titanium and zirconia are safe and compatible with the oral cavity, with minimal chances of causing an adverse reaction. However, many periodontists choose titanium for the following reasons:
- It has a long-standing track record
- It provides more options
- It is more durable than zirconia
- It is more cost-effective than zirconia
If titanium implants are placed correctly, there is a minimal chance their dark color will interfere with your smile.
Which Type of Implant Is Right for You?
Choosing between zirconia and titanium dental implants comes down to individual considerations. A trained periodontist, like the team from Dental Implants & Periodontal Health of Rochester, can help you compare the advantages and disadvantages of each and help you decide what’s the best option for you.
Contact our office today to schedule a consultation and learn which dental implant option suits you best. 585-685-2005