young adult woman smiling while sitting at her deskIf you are considering dental implants, you might not realize that you can choose what type of dental implant you want. Most Columbus dentists will tell you that dental implants are made of titanium. However, that’s not strictly true. Most dental implants are made of titanium, but a few are made of advanced ceramic materials. 

Understanding the difference between them can help you decide whether zirconia implants are right for you. Columbus implant dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian offers you this choice. 

What Are Titanium Implants?

Titanium is a type of metal. It’s often valued because it is strong and lightweight, making it a good choice for aerospace applications. However, medical experiments more than 60 years ago accidentally discovered it had another property: the body will attach bone to it. The body doesn’t just grow bone around titanium. It attaches bone to the titanium, essentially making the titanium part of the bone. We call this osseointegration. 

After this discovery, we started to design implants made of titanium that bond to the bone to replace bones, joints, and, yes, teeth. The titanium dental implant is an artificial tooth root made either of pure titanium or of a titanium alloy. This bonds with the bone of the jaw. 

Then a Columbus dentist can use an abutment to attach the implant to a dental crown–which replaces a single tooth–or a dental bridge–which replaces multiple teeth using two or more implants. With the All-on-4 system, for example, just four implants can support a bridge that replaces all your teeth in either the upper or lower arch. 

What Are Ceramic Implants?

Ceramic implants are made of advanced ceramic materials, usually zirconia. This material can also bond to the bone, making it another good choice for dental implants.

Zirconia oxide is very strong. Stronger than titanium, in fact. Zirconia is stabilized with another type of ceramic, such as yttria (yttrium oxide) or alumina (aluminum oxide). This makes it stay in the desired form, so it maintains its strength long-term. 

How long-term? We don’t know exactly. While titanium dental implants have more than 60 years of data, ceramic implants have much less; about 20 years of good data. So far, it looks good. 

Benefits of Titanium Dental Implants

Titanium implants have many benefits that account for their widespread use. With titanium dental implants, you enjoy:

  • Scientific evidence
  • Versatile products
  • Resilience

Since the first accidental discovery that titanium bonded to the bone, the scientist who made the discovery started secret experiments to confirm what he’d found, implanting small pieces of titanium in lab workers. When this worked, he sought a dental implant patient. From that point on, dental implants became subject to worldwide scientific scrutiny. The world was hungry for dental implants, and it wanted to be sure that this miraculous discovery would actually work. It did, and there’s a tremendous body of scientific evidence supporting it. 

Alongside the science, people rushed to apply engineering solutions to this discovery. Numerous companies around the world developed a wide variety of solutions related to titanium dental implants. This makes it possible to use titanium dental implants in almost any tooth-replacement scenario. 

We mentioned that zirconia is stronger than titanium, but titanium can be more resilient. That’s because titanium can flex when forces get too strong. Even a little bit of flex helps titanium stand up against the tough, repeated forces of chewing and tooth grinding, as well as sudden trauma. 

Benefits of Ceramic Implants

On the other hand, ceramic implants are growing in popularity because they, too, offer benefits that might make them better for some people. Ceramic implants are:

  • Metal-free
  • Attractive
  • Healthy for soft tissue

Metal-free dental implants can be important for some people. About 0.6% of people have titanium allergies, which can lead to implant problems, including dental implant failure. In addition, some people have negative responses to metals in their mouths, especially if they get more than one metal restoration. For these people, ceramic implants are a great alternative. 

As a general rule, dental implants are the most attractive tooth replacement option. However, there are some people who might not get great cosmetic results with titanium implants. That’s because titanium is metal, and it looks like metal. If a person has thin gums, sensitive gums, or gums that can become discolored, they might not like the way titanium implants look. For these people, ceramic implants look more natural and attractive. 

While titanium can make a healthy bond to your bone, it doesn’t always bond to your gums in a healthy way. Some people develop receding gums around titanium implants, which causes both cosmetic and health problems. Plus, titanium implants attract more oral bacteria than ceramic implants. 

Columbus implant dentists who offer ceramic dental implants do a vital service for people who can’t fully benefit from titanium dental implants. 

When To Chose Which?

Based on these benefits, you can choose the right type of dental implant for you. You should choose a ceramic implant in Columbus if you:

  • Have a metal allergy, sensitivity, or concern
  • Thin gum tissue
  • Sensitive gum tissue

Otherwise, titanium implants are likely to be your best choice. 

Considering Ceramic Implants in Columbus?

If you are in Columbus, OH, and want to learn whether ceramic implants are right for you, talk to implant dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian. Dr. Firouzian has helped many people get great results with dental implants, including both titanium and ceramic implants. He can help you understand whether you will be better off with metal or metal-free dental implants. 

Please call (614) 848-5001 or use our online form today to request an appointment at Firouzian Dentistry in the Crossroads neighborhood of Columbus.