Titanium Versus Zirconia Dental Implants 

Jamie J. Alexander on March 17, 2022

Three million dental implants are placed every year, and Boynton Beach, the FL dentist – Dr. Jamie J. Alexander, has kept abreast of the latest in implant treatment technology and methods. 

Dental implants are special posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone to support a prosthetic tooth or teeth after one or more teeth are lost. Depending on the number of implants placed, they can be used to support a single implant crown, a multi-unit bridge, or even a full denture. 

“Dental implant treatment is constantly advancing, and new developments mean a better experience for our patients. With today’s computerized assisted tomography (CAT) imaging of the patient’s anatomy and computerized design and manufacturing of implant components, near-exact replicas of lost teeth can be placed and retained on implants,” says Dr. Alexander. “The function and appearance are so natural that you and others will not be aware that your implant(s) are not your natural teeth.” 

You Need the Advice and Guidance of an Implant Expert

“In our dental practice, we spend time discussing the advantages and disadvantages of different types of restorative materials and treatment options,” says Dr. Alexander. “Implant treatment planning, like other types of treatment, is a collaboration between the patient and doctor, and in the case of dental implants, a collaboration among the patient and the selected implant surgeon. 

>“The reason why my patients receive implants from an implant surgeon is that the specialists I refer to perform implant placement and other related surgical procedures daily. They have in-house 3D Cone Beam Computerized Tomography for the most accurate surgical planning and precise surgery. Their 3D imaging allows them to select the best implant components for your situation and place them perfectly in an ideal position. Another technology in their offices allows them to create Platelet Enriched Fibrin or Plasma from a sample of your blood, which speeds healing and minimizes gum swelling. IV sedation for your surgery is available with our expert oral surgeons.”

You and the implant surgeon will discuss the type of implant that is recommended for your oral health circumstances, and you will have the opportunity to discuss the choice of using titanium or zirconia implants. 

Dental patients care about the quality, ease, and affordability of the treatment they will receive. And they want results that last. Many dental manufacturers make implant systems, and with so many more on the market, the costs of materials have become more competitive and therefore treatment has become more affordable. 

Awareness about what is going into your body and how the materials may affect your oral and systemic health is a concern for many dental patients. 

There are multiple considerations that you and the implant surgeon may discuss, especially if you are concerned about placing titanium in your body. Alternatives to traditional titanium dental implants exist, and now implants made of zirconia, the strongest biocompatible ceramic, are now widely available. 

Understanding the Differences Between Titanium and Zirconia Implants

Titanium Dental Implants

Titanium has been in use for dental implants since the 1960s in Europe before being brought to the United States. Over this period, titanium implants have been researched thoroughly and continue to be the most popular form of the dental implant due to durability, effectiveness, and ease of care. The latest titanium implant components are designed to mimic the structure of natural tooth roots, so they provide even more stability for natural biting and chewing function, and the prosthetic teeth are at low risk of wearing down or chipping. 

The advantage of titanium implants is that they have the durability necessary to withstand extensive use, yet they are still light enough to be comfortable inside the mouth. They also have a low rate of thermal conductivity, so they do not cause discomfort in adjacent natural teeth when eating and drinking cold and hot foods and beverages.

>A health risk is that a titanium implant can fail if the patient has an allergic reaction to the metals inside the implant. Titanium implants are 89% to 99% titanium but also include small amounts of various other metals such as zinc, tungsten, nickel, tin, chromium, and vanadium. If you have a history of metal allergies, the ions released from titanium dental implants may cause inflammation and irritation of your gums.

Another issue that can occur with titanium implants is that the metal is dark in color and may show through thin gum tissue. Expert implant surgeons take the aesthetics of treatment into consideration and assess the degree to which this could be a possibility with your treatment.  The natural tooth color (whiteness) of zirconia makes zirconia implants preferable when there are aesthetic concerns.

Zirconia Dental Implants

Zirconia is emerging as an alternative to titanium. They are:

  • Toothlike in color to ensure the best aesthetics – Unlike titanium implants, they do not show through thin gums.
  • Lower risk for infection — They do not corrode like metal and accumulate less plaque than titanium posts. 
  • Lower risk for allergic reaction — Because zirconia implants are metal-free, there is a lower risk for allergic reactions and fewer infections. 

Although zirconia implants are an option for patients who want to go metal-free, they also are:

  • Less versatile – There is less variety of components available to fit the space where an implant will be used and to provide for angulation when angulation is needed. In comparison, titanium implants and their associated components come in varying sizes and angles and can be used in more complex treatment situations. 
  • More brittle – Compared to titanium, zirconia has a lower fracture strength and thus presents a higher risk for fracture under the forces of biting, chewing, and clenching.

Weighing Your Options

Discussing treatment options for replacing missing teeth is one of Dr. Jamie Alexander’s fortes. His participation in interdisciplinary study clubs and regular collaboration on implant cases make it easy for him to provide an initial consultation to help you decide if you would like implant treatment, crown and bridge treatment, or a denture. If you would like to pursue implant treatment, Dr. Jamie Alexander will refer you to a local implant specialist for a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. The specialist will then discuss with you and communicate with Dr. Alexander what the specialist thinks is the best treatment plan for you. It will be your decision whether to proceed with the recommended plan of treatment after becoming fulling informed about that treatment. 

In our Boynton Beach, Florida dental practice, we consider it our privilege to help patients become best informed, gain access to the best care available, and guide them in making confident dental implant decisions.  

“I will make myself available to you to talk about the plan and help you make your decision,” says Dr. Alexander. “And in my Boynton Beach dental practice, I will seat the prosthetic tooth or teeth on your implant(s) after they are placed, examine the health of your implant(s) at regular intervals of six months, and do everything possible to help you maintain your implant dentistry long into the future. It is very common for implant restorations to last the rest of a patient’s lifetime, and our patients who have had implant treatment are delighted with the life-transforming results!”