Dental Implant Materials
Dental implants offer a unique, revolutionary, way to treat tooth loss, and they have quickly become the most popular choice when it comes to replacing missing teeth. The benefits of dental implants are numerous. Along with restoring your smile and your abilities to eat and speak, they also work to maintain the integrity and shape of your jawbone. The actual implant itself, which is surgically placed directly into the jawbone, works just like the roots of your natural teeth, stimulating the bone. Stimulation is essential for maintaining jaw health, and no other treatment for missing teeth can provide this. At Neil Starr, DDS, PC, we are proud to offer dental implants to meet a variety of tooth replacement needs. While most implants used today are made of titanium, there is currently research being done into the use of alternative materials, which has led to the discovery of zirconia.
Titanium ImplantsTitanium was the first material to be used for modern dental implants and is still the most common material today. The discovery for the use of this material was completely accidental. In the early 1950s, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon was researching bone healing and regeneration when he discovered that a titanium cylinder he had placed in the femur of a rabbit had begun integrating into the bone. After further research, this surgeon placed the first successful dental implants in 1965.
The very first titanium implants were pure titanium. However, titanium alone proved to be too weak, which led to the use of a titanium alloy. Today, 95 percent of implants placed use this alloy, and they boast a 98 percent success rate.
Zirconia ImplantsWhile titanium implants are so successful, they are not ideal for everyone. Some individuals seeking implants have metal allergies. Others are opposed to the idea of placing metal directly into their bodies. These concerns have sparked research into an alternative to titanium that would provide the same success. Eventually, zirconium oxide, referred to as zirconia implants, was discovered.
Zirconia implants are considered to be metal-free, though they do contain trace amounts of metal. The metal in these implants work to provide them with the strength they need to support your crowns. Often called ceramic implants, zirconia implants integrate into the jaw just like titanium implants and have been shown to be both strong and stable.
Which Material is Best?Both titanium and zirconia implants are biocompatible and are tolerated well by the jawbone. Bone fuses to each type of implant material, turning them into stable supports for your crowns. Titanium, however, has a major advantage over zirconia. The material has many more years of research and development behind it. Titanium is also a versatile material, being able to be used as single pieces or two separate ones. With two separate pieces, we can place implants at an angle, which allows us to maximize contact between the implant and your jawbone while allowing the actual crown to sit in your mouth naturally.
Zirconia implants, on the other hand, are only available as single pieces, and therefore cannot be placed at an angle. This limits the situations in which they can be used. Moreover, because zirconia implants are newer, there is less research behind them. However, zirconia does have a few advantages over titanium. Where titanium implants are silver, zirconia implants are tooth-colored. This means that if you experience gum recession, or have naturally thick gum tissue, the presence of the implant will not be noticed. Instead, it looks like the root of your natural tooth. Zirconia also has the distinct advantage of being resistant to corrosion, which is a risk with titanium.
Research and development of dental implants is ongoing, and discoveries are constantly being made to improve them and their stability. Call Neil Starr, DDS, PC today to learn more at (202) 897-0015.
Neil L. Starr, DDS, PC
1234 19th Street N.W. #306
Washington DC, 20036