If your dentist has suggested dental implants, you may be wondering if you should choose ceramic or titanium. Both have pros and cons. Dental implants can and often do last a lifetime, so it’s important to choose the right material for you.
Here is a look at how they compare, so you can have an informed conversation with your dentist. At the Institute for Systemic Dentistry, we view ourselves as partners in your dental health and are happy to discuss any questions you may have during your visit.
Ceramic (also known as Zirconia) dental implants:
What the implant process is like: Most ceramic dental implants are one-piece devices, meaning they can be placed in one-stage surgery. Many times, on the day of the surgery, a dentist will place the implant so there is a connector coming out of the gum tissue and a temporary crown (a cover or “cap” that restores a tooth to the normal shape and size it would ordinarily have). When the healing is complete, your dentist will replace the temporary crown with a permanent one. Sometimes, a dentist may instead place a temporary healing abutment above the tissue on the day you have the surgery.
What ceramic dental implants are made of: Ceramic dental implants contain the elements of Zirconia, Alumina and Yttria. Zirconia is found naturally in the mineral baddeleyite. Alumina and Yttria are ceramic oxides of metal. Because they exist in a glass phase, there is no trace of metal in the implants.
Appearance: Ceramic dental implants have a natural look, because they are white or tooth color and will not cause a gray or black line along the gums. Ceramic implants are generally best in the front teeth, where cosmetics are most important and strength secondary.
Durability: Ceramic dental implants are just as strong as metal implants when it comes to two important measures – compressive strength (how well they hold up to daily chewing) and flexural strength (their resistance to fracturing under stress).
There’s one caveat: Patients who clench their teeth very hard may find that ceramic dental implants in the back of the mouth may fracture. If you grind your teeth and want to use ceramic implants in the back teeth, you may need a mouth guard to protect your teeth and the implant.
Bio-compatibility: Ceramic dental implants are inert, but not all patients can use them. Each patient has what is known as biochemical individuality. A material that works well for one person may cause a reaction in another. In our practice, we use biodynamic testing to help patients select the material that is best for them.
Titanium dental implants:
What the implant process is like: A titanium implant usually requires a two-stage surgery, though in some cases can be completed in one stage. First, your dentist must place the implant in the jawbone and suture the tissue over the implants, so it can heal for three to six months. Then, after the healing takes place, the dentist will perform another procedure where he or she places a temporary abutment and crown.
What titanium dental implants are made of: Titanium implants have two components: (1) the screw that is inserted into the bone and (2) the abutment (also known as the connector), which links the screw to the crown.
Titanium implants contain the metal titanium. Titanium is known for being strong and lightweight and for its ability to fuse to the bone after being inserted, in a process called osseointegration.
Appearance: Titanium implants may cause a gray or black line along the gums, unless your dentist places them deeper into the gum, near the bone. However, there are some risks to “bone level implants.” They increase the risk for implant infection.
Durability: Metal implants have similar strength to ceramic dental implants. However, they can be more durable for use in the back teeth, the part of the mouth where stress is the greatest.
Bio-compatibility: Many people are biocompatible with titanium implants. However, up to 30% of the population may react to titanium.
Choosing the right kind of implants for you may seem like an overwhelming research project but it doesn’t have to be. We’re here to help you make a well-informed decision and encourage you to reach out if you have any questions you’d like to discuss.