Losing a tooth can have a devastating effect on your life that keeps you from smiling. With zirconium implants, you can get your full and complete smile back. At The International Center for Dental Excellence, we offer dental implant services for patients who have lost teeth. Our dental implants will completely restore your mouth’s functionality and fill the gap left by missing teeth.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are artificial teeth that can replace the teeth that you have lost. They are secured directly to your jaw bone just like a regular tooth and look completely natural. Most dentists use titanium implants, because the titanium fuses directly to your jawbone like a natural tooth root. However, titanium implants can be unstable and lead to visible gray metal rings. At The International Center for Dental Excellence, we use Z-Systems zirconium implants as an alternative to titanium implants.

Before and After Photos:

The Benefits:

  • Zirconium implants function and look just like a natural tooth.
  • Zirconium implants are durable and long lasting.
  • Zirconium implants fuse with the jaw bone and keep the jaw bone strong.
  • Zirconium implants can be cared for like regular teeth.
  • Zirconium implants fill the gap left by missing teeth and allow patients to eat, talk, and smile better.

Our dental implants have all the benefits of titanium implants, without the titanium. Our implant dental procedure is a safe and effective way to restore lost teeth.

If you need dental implants to replace your missing teeth and do not want ‘metal’, you may be considering zirconium dental implants as an alternative. Zirconium dental implants or zirconia dental implants, are one of the newer forms of dental implants in the market as an alternative to titanium dental implants. But before you make any decisions, you should consider the following important factors:

What are zirconium ceramic dental implants?

Zirconium was discovered in 1789 by the German chemist M. H. Klaproth but rediscovered only in the last decades because of its unique properties. Zirconium is a very hard material and has great strength. Because of its high bio-compatibility, it is used in medicine (auditory, finger and hip prostheses) and dentistry (posts, crown and bridge restorations, implants, implant abutments). Zirconium has similar color to teeth and is bio-compatible making it an alternative material in dentistry. Zirconium dental implants were approved by FDA in 2007 and have very limited scientific studies in United States. They have been used mostly in Europe with short term studies.

Are Zirconium dental implants truly non-metal?

Zirconium dental implants have been marketed widely as the ‘non-metal’ or ‘ceramic’ alternative to Titanium dental implants. But the fact is the elemental component of Zirconium is a metal. Zirconium is a chemical element with atomic number 40, located in group 4 from the periodic chart of elements. Its symbol is Zr. It is a hard metal, resistant to corrosion and similar to steel. It does not exist in nature in the pure state. It can be obtained through complex physico-chemical process. In the periodic chart, it is located next to Titanium (Ti). For this reason their properties are very similar.

The Zirconium ‘ceramic’ also known as Zirconia (ZrO2) is produced by a chlorination process that results in a white Zirconium powder. To improve the properties of zirconium (ZrO2), other elements are added to the compound to stabilize the molecular structure: ex. Yttrium (Y). Through a mixture and sintering process, the final ceramic structure is stabilized. The Y-TZP is the Yttrium stabilized Tetragonal Zirconium Policrystal. The Y-TZP ceramic is the material that is used in dentistry as ZIRCONIUM. Simply, it has been always easier to say zirconium than Y-TZP. *Many refer to ZrO2 as a ceramic, however, a ceramic is ‘an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous (e.g., a glass). Because most common ceramics are crystalline, the definition of ceramic is often restricted to inorganic crystalline materials, as opposed to the noncrystalline glasses.’ Based on this definition, referring to ZrO2 as ceramic may be not be completely accurate.

Reported advantages of zirconium implants:

  • Used over 20 years in medicine, mainly for prosthetic joints, with good success.
  • Bio-compatible (completely tissue-friendly); there are no allergic reactions, no sensitivity to temperature and no impact on taste.
  • Gum tissue-friendly material with low plaque retention and inflammation.
  • Since zirconium is white and more similar to the color of natural teeth, it may have aesthetic advantages over titanium. In the rare event of gum tissue recession or shrinkage, zirconium dental implants will not reveal gray lines like in the case of titanium implants. However, it should be pointed out that similar remarkable aesthetic results can be achieved with titanium implants if they are used along with zirconium abutments and crowns.

Risks with Zirconium ‘ceramic’ implants?

  • Zirconium dental implants are one-piece structures and can only work in one position, unlike a two-piece titanium dental implants that offer more flexibility in their angle through the use of custom abutments. Therefore ceramic implants must be placed with extreme caution and attention to orientation and angle.
  • There are reported non-integration and fractures and there are no long term studies to support their efficacy and longevity in the literature. The existing research is limited and very short term.
  • Zirconium implants may be subjected to hydrolysis (a physiological process) whereby they can absorb water and potentially become more prone to fracture. Although the initial studies are favorable, more investigations are in progress.

Ceramic vs titanium dental implants?

The decision to use ceramic or titanium dental implants should be fully discussed between patient and surgeon. On one hand, many patients may request ceramic dental implants because of its ‘non-metal’ properties. As we discussed, Zirconium implants are technically a metal. On the other hand, the surgeon must follow evidence-based dentistry to make proper recommendations for long term success and safety.

If you like to learn more about ceramic dental abutments and see if it is for you, please let us know.