Titanium implants are good, but ceramic dental implants are proving to be great.
Dental implants have been around for a long time and we have come to a stage where we are very confident in their application. But with progression comes constant improvement, and the major improvement we’re seeing in the implant arena is in the field of ceramic dental implants.
What is wrong with titanium implants? They have a good track record, after all. They integrate well with bone, meaning bone cells will actually grow on top of the titanium and lock it in and titanium is used in other parts of the body, too.
But we can now substitute titanium with zirconia, a ceramic with an extremely high level of strength. It is completely free of metal, and we know that some patients react adversely to metals. There are some investigations that can be done to test individuals reactivity towards the metals inside a titanium implant. Sometimes the metals can trigger an immunological reaction in a person’s body, meaning the implant will not succeed.
Ceramic dental implants remove this risk, but they also offer another major benefit. People come to dentists and dental surgeons partly for their health and partly for their appearance. One of the major advantages of ceramic dental implants over their titanium cousins is that the actual screw is all ceramic, all white. This means no metal rim will ever show at the gum interface. This can sometimes happen with titanium implants after a little shrinkage of the gum.
I am one of the first dentists in WA to start using zirconia, or metal-free implants. I began the process around 18 months ago and I’m seeing some excellent results. But actually it is not so new that people should be concerned. Last February, for instance, I was at a congress on ceramic implants, in Florida. There were a lot of exhibitors there, from Switzerland, Germany, Spain and more. They were all discussing the success they have experienced for the last ten to 15 years with zirconia, and the many benefits to patients.
A major manufacturer of titanium implants, one of the world leaders in the field, has also introduced its own zirconia implants because of the aesthetic issue that can result from titanium implants. This is the way things are moving.
Of course, a big question is the cost. Generally speaking the ceramic dental implants should cost a little more than titanium, but not a lot. Having used titanium for more than eight years in my practice, I have now completely stopped and moved on to ceramics.Most patients find that the advantages of ceramic dental implants outweigh any minor price differentiation.
So the new technologies and new advancements are welcome because they give the profession, and therefore our patients, greater choice of treatment and outcome, for health, performance and aesthetics. Zirconia implants are an example of technology helping us to advance our treatments and move in exciting new directions with our patients.