At Oregon Periodontics, P.C., we are proud to offer dental implants as an option for replacing your missing teeth. While a fairly recent development, dental implants have quickly become one of the most popular treatment methods. Implants require a surgical procedure, during which the implants are inserted into your jawbone. As you heal, the bone fuses to the implants, turning them into stable roots that support your replacement crowns. Along with restoring the basic functions of your teeth, including eating and speech, as well as your smile, implants offer greater comfort, and they are much easier to care for. Implants also work to preserve the integrity of your jawbone, a benefit that no other replacement option can offer. Typically, dental implants are made out of titanium, but there has been significant research into zirconia implants as well.
Titanium is the original material used for dental implants, dating back to the 1950s. They came about as a result of research done by a Swedish orthopedic surgeon, and their discovery was completely accidental. He was studying bone healing and regeneration when he found that the bone in the femur of a rabbit had fused to a titanium cylinder he had previously implanted. This spurred further research, leading to the eventual development, and successful placement, of dental implants.
The very first implants were made of pure titanium. This material, however, proved to be too weak, so it was traded for a titanium alloy. Today, titanium alloy makes up 95% of implants placed. Since their inception, hundreds of titanium alloy implants have been placed, and they have yielded a 98% success rate.
While titanium implants are very successful, the metal that these implants contain does pose some issues. There are some tooth loss patients who cannot tolerate metal due to allergies. Others simply do not want metal implanted into their bodies. These issues have driven the search for alternative materials, eventually leading to the discovery of zirconia, or zirconium oxide. While these implants do contain very trace amounts of metal, they are considered to be metal-free, or ceramic, implants. The trace metals help to provide the strength zirconia needs to support your replacement teeth. Your bone fuses to zirconia just as it fuses to titanium, and the material has proven strong and stable.
Titanium Versus Zirconia
Titanium and zirconia are both well tolerated by the jawbone. The bone fuses to each material, turning the implants into stable roots that provide the necessary support to your replacement crowns. However, titanium has the distinct advantage of having many more years of research and development behind it, making it a better-understood material. Titanium implants also offer greater versatility, available as single pieces or two separate pieces. The two-piece implants, the implant, and the post allow the implant to be placed at an angle, maximizing bone-implant contact, while still successfully anchoring your replacement crowns in place.
Because zirconia implants are newer, there is not as much research behind them, and not much is known about them. These implants are only currently available as single pieces, and cannot, therefore, be placed at an angle in the jaw. However, zirconia implants are white in color, matching the color of your natural teeth. In the case of gum recession or thin gum tissue, no metal implant is seen. This provides you with a more natural appearance in these cases. Zirconia is also corrosion resistant.
Dental implants are a revolutionary development in the restoration of missing teeth, and new improvements and developments are being made all of the time. For more information on the materials used for dental implants, call Oregon Periodontics, P.C. today at (503) 575-7750.