Ceramic Implants: Everything You Need to Know

by Dental-Pedia
Everything you need to know about ceramic implants: Zirconia dental implants are superior to tianium implants

For the longest time in modern dental history, titanium has been the primary material used for dental implants. But due to recent innovations, it has become clear that ceramic implants are superior to titanium implants.  To be fair, titanium implants revolutionized the dental industry. Before titanium implants became a viable option for teeth replacement, individuals with missing teeth could only rely on dentures that often slipped out of place, leading to considerable social embarrassment and discomfort. Dental implants essentially replace the root structures of missing teeth, so they’re a firm, stable, and reliable replacement for natural teeth.

But titanium implants also carry their fair share of problems. Some patients don’t like the idea of inserting metallic objects within the mouth, and that’s a valid concern. When the titanium particles break down within the mouth, they release particles that can trigger allergic reactions or inflammation, leading to various systemic health concerns. Patients with titanium implants also have to contend with the possibility of peri-implantitis, a bacterial infection that can lead to the loss of an implant.

Advocates of ceramic dental implants say they are safer and more biocompatible than titanium implants. While the number of dentists offering ceramic implants is still limited, it’s clear that zirconia dental implants are the new standard in implantology.

If you’re missing one or several teeth, you should carefully consider all of your dental implant options — titanium implants and ceramic implants. This article provides a comprehensive guide to ceramic implants, including their benefits and drawbacks.

Ceramic implants are dental implants made from a tooth-colored material called zirconium oxide

What are Ceramic Implants? 

Ceramic implants are dental implants made from a tooth-colored material called “zirconium oxide”, which is a crystallized version of inert zirconium. Zirconia is an extremely strong and durable material often used in surgical procedures, such as hip ceramic implants and other orthopedic surgeries. Zirconia dental implants have gradually become more widespread over the past two decades because they’re more biocompatible and hypoallergenic than titanium.

During a dental implant procedure, the dentist or dental surgeon surgically inserts the ceramic implant within the jawbone underneath the empty socket of the missing tooth. Once the ceramic implant is in place, your body initiates the osseointegration process whereby the bone tissues fuse with the ceramic implant’s surface, making the implant a firmly rooted part of your dental anatomy. The ceramic implant essentially replaces the root structure of the missing tooth.

After the healing process, the ceramic implant can support a dental crown, bridge, or denture. Ceramic implants provide a firm and stable base for dental restorations. When ceramic implants first came into the picture, there was some skepticism about their strength and durability. But thanks to advanced manufacturing processes, ceramic implants are just as strong and durable as titanium implants. They also heal faster and minimize the risk of bacterial infections

Zirconia Implants vs. Titanium Implants - which ones are better?

Zirconia Implants vs. Titanium Implants 

Both zirconia and titanium are biocompatible materials for dental implants. And both zirconia implants and titanium implants facilitate osseointegration within the jawbone, thereby creating a firm and stable base for the replacement teeth. The dental implant structure, in both cases, usually consists of the implant screw, the abutment, and the dental prosthetic. However, zirconia implants are different from titanium implants in a few essential categories. 

The following are the primary differences between zirconia implants and titanium implants:

Corrosion Resistance:  Titanium implants gradually degrade and release titanium ions that can induce inflammation and allergic reactions. But ceramic implants don’t corrode or degrade, so there’s no release of ions.
Gray Coloration:  As you grow older, your gum tissues may shrink or become thinner, revealing the underlying implant body. Titanium implants lead to a greyish coloration in the gums, but zirconia implants are tooth-colored, so they look indistinguishable from ceramic implants.
Soft Tissue Healing: Ceramic dental implants facilitate better soft tissue healing than titanium implants. When the soft tissues heal around ceramic implants, patients experience minimal inflammation, making it better for overall health.
Until recently, dentists have been skeptical of ceramic implants because of a perception that they’re weaker than titanium implants. When zirconia dental implants first came into the picture, they had a higher rate of failure, but that’s no longer true. Modern ceramic implants can withstand complete bite force, and they’re just as strong as titanium implants. In fact, recent studies have shown that zirconia implants have similar success rates as titanium implants, making them the ideal alternatives.

Zirconia dental implants are hypoallergenic, which means you don’t have to worry about allergic reactions.

Zirconia Dental Implants are Hypoallergenic

Zirconia is a hypoallergenic material, which means you don’t have to worry about allergic reactions. Compared to zirconia implants, titanium implants can lead to metal allergies and sensitivity, which leads to itchiness, inflammation, and, in some cases, the loss of the implant. Everyone doesn’t suffer from titanium allergies, but the risk is potent enough to consider ceramic implants as a superior alternative.

Ceramic Dental Implants are Corrosion Resistance

Titanium, like all metals, gradually corrodes over time and releases titanium ions that react with the surrounding tissues. Titanium corrosion can trigger inflammation, itching, and other unwanted side effects. But zirconia is a bioinert material that doesn’t corrode or release ions, so it’s safer in the long run than titanium implants.

Ceramic dental implants are corrosion resitant, extremely strong and durable

Strength & Durability of Zirconia Implants

Zirconia implants are extremely strong and durable. Thanks to recent technological advancements, they can withstand complete bite force without fracturing. Some of the earlier ceramic implants may have struggled in this area, but modern ceramic implants display a success rate on par with titanium implants.

Ceramic Implants Facilitate Optimal Osseointegration

The success of a dental implant is determined by osseointegration, i.e., how well the jawbone tissues fuse with the implant material. Zirconia implants facilitate optimal osseointegration, which means the bone tissues naturally and quickly merge with the ceramic implant’s surface, ensuring optimal healing and durability.

Zirconia Implants for Optimal Biointegration

Biointegration goes one step beyond osseointegration. Instead of simply looking at how well the jawbone tissues fuse with the implant surface, biointegration considers the level of soft tissue healing. Zirconia has an excellent track record with biointegration — the soft tissues generally respond better to zirconia implants than titanium implants.

Zirconia Dental Implants Prevent Plaque Accumulation

Zirconia implants discourage plaque adhesion, and the risk of bacterial infections is extremely low because of a non-polar structure. As such, you are less likely to suffer from bacterial infections because of zirconia implants than titanium implants.

Ceramic Dental Implants Have a Minimal Risk of Peri-Implantitis

Peri-implantitis is a medical complication wherein bacteria accumulate within the tissues around the implant, leading to increased inflammation, swelling, bleeding, and eventually the loss of the implant. The risk of peri-implantitis is one of the primary drawbacks of titanium implants. But zirconia is a bioinert material with low plaque adhesion, and it ensures a tight soft tissue seal, which means the risk of bacterial infections is significantly lower.

Avoid Peri-implantitis and facilitate faster healing with Zirconia Dental Implants

Faster Healing with Zirconia Implants

Zirconia is a bioinert material that doesn’t conduct heat, so it’s much better for your gum tissues in the long run. Patients generally heal faster after zirconia implants compared to titanium implants.

More Aesthetic with Ceramic Dental Implants

Titanium implants are gray in color, so they usually lead to mild greyish discoloration around the gums when the patient’s gum tissues recede due to age. But zirconia is a tooth-colored material. As such, even if your gum tissues recede or become thinner, you don’t have to worry about a metallic tint in your gums. Furthermore, because of better soft tissue healing and lower inflammation, ceramic implants are better for your smile.

Drawbacks of Zirconia Implants

One of the biggest drawbacks of zirconia implants is that they’re relatively new. While titanium implants are backed by decades of clinical studies and experience, zirconia implants have only been around for 10 to 20 years. That means there are fewer long-term clinical studies for zirconia implants, and there are fewer dentists currently offering zirconia implants. If your dentist doesn’t offer zirconia implants, you will have to specifically find one who does.

Ceramic / Zirconia Implants: The best material for Dental Implants

Ceramic / Zirconia Implants FAQs

What is the best material for dental implants?

Titanium has been the only material for dental implants for decades, ever since the 1960s. But over the past two decades, zirconia implants have proven superior in most aspects. Zirconia is a bioinert and hypoallergenic material that facilitates optimal healing and osseointegration with the body, and it’s also better for soft tissue healing. Most importantly, zirconia implants negate the risks associated with bacterial infections and peri-implantitis. There are some situations in which dentists may prefer titanium implants, but zirconia implants clearly represent the new standards in dental implantology.

Are zirconia implants safe? 

Zirconia is a non-corrosive and nonallergenic material, so it’s safer and more beneficial for the patient in the long run. Titanium implants involve a higher risk of bacterial infections and peri-implantitis, leading to severe complications. Furthermore, peri-implantitis caused by titanium implants doesn’t just affect the mouth — it can also affect cognitive health, cardiovascular health, respiratory health, and the entire body. That’s why zirconia implants are considered to be safer than titanium implants.

Do ceramic implants look natural?

Ceramic implants look completely natural because zirconia is a tooth-colored material. The dental implant generally lies below the gum tissues, so it’s not visible to the naked eye. But if the patient suffers from gum recession, a small part of the implant may become visible through the gum tissues. In the case of titanium implants, if the implant becomes visible, it leads to a greyish discoloration. But since ceramic implants are tooth-colored, they look completely natural.

How long do ceramic implants last?

Just like titanium implants, ceramic implants are supposed to last a lifetime.

How much do zirconia implants cost?

The specific cost of zirconia implants depends on numerous factors, including your particular condition, the number of teeth you need to replace, the location of the implant, the location of the dental clinic, and other factors. Generally speaking, zirconia implants are more expensive than titanium implants, but most dentists and patients agree that the higher cost is worth it. Since zirconia implants minimize the risk of peri-implant complications, the risk of implant failures and needing another implant is also lower, which can save more money in the long run.

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4 Ways to Deal with Dental Implant Anxiety
created by Rohan, Dental-Pedia Staff Writer

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