Ceramic Dental Implants
Today, dental implants are among the most common devices used to replace a missing tooth. Dental implants consist of a screw inserted into the jaw bone, which serves like a natural tooth root to anchor an artificial tooth in the mouth. Most of these screws are made of titanium. However, there are also ceramic dental implants. Some dentists and patients prefer these implants for a variety of reasons, though titanium implants do remain the most common form. Though relatively newly introduced to the United States, ceramic implants are widely used in Europe. They are becoming increasingly popular in the United States as an alternative to titanium implants.
How They Work:
Most ceramic implants are made of zirconia or zirconium oxide (ZrO2). While technically a metal, many consider these to be a ceramic due to the molecular structure of this material. These implants look like a small screw. Ceramic dental implants work the same way as their more common titanium counterparts. A small hole is drilled into the jaw bone, and the ceramic piece is fitted into this hole. Over the next few months, the implant fuses with the natural bone, forming a strong bond that will anchor the artificial tooth in the mouth.
One of the major advantages of ceramic over titanium is that it is considered to be biocompatible. In other words, it is safe to implant into the body. This makes infection and rejection less likely. Many patients prefer these implants because they do not contain metal; they do not conduct electricity or electromagnetic forces. If you are looking for a metal-free tooth restoration method, this may be an option for you. Because they are not a metal, there is no risk of corrosion. Ceramic implants are also hypoallergenic, an important consideration for those with allergies or sensitivities. Some patients have known allergies or sensitivities to metals such as titanium; for these patients, ceramic dental implants are the only viable form of implant.
Ceramic dental implants are white, compared to the metallic gray appearance of titanium implants. Because they appear more natural, they are often preferred for implants in the front of the mouth, where it is beneficial to avoid the dark line that can occur at the gums when a titanium implant is used.
The success rate of ceramic dental implants is thought to be comparable to that of titanium implants. Like their titanium counterparts, they are very resistant to heat and fracturing forces. Studies have shown them to be similar to titanium implants in this regard. In fact, this same zirconia material is used in spaceships because of its resistance to fracture and heat.
This option is becoming increasingly accepted by dentists and patients. However, because they are still considered to be cutting-edge dental devices, they tend to come with a higher cost than their standard titanium counterparts. In addition, not all dentists offer this option. If you are considering dental implants, ask your dentist whether ceramic implants may be right for you.