Ceramic Implants: A proven, effective alternative to titanium
Dentistry is a constantly evolving field. Every year there is new research and data suggesting that the way we treat certain conditions might not be ideal for every patient. One standard of practice that has been scrutinized for many years is the use of certain metals in dental procedures. One procedure that has been heavily debated is the dental implant. Back in the 1950’s, it was accidentally discovered that once titanium came in contact with bone, if untouched, the bone would grow against the surface anchoring the titanium in place. This process is now known as osseointegration and is critical for the body’s healing process. From that point on titanium became the standard of practice. Other metals were tried but none could compare. As a result, titanium became popular for its unmatched biocompatibility and mechanical properties.
In recent years, zirconium implants have gained a lot of momentum and for good reason. One manufacturer that is seeing tremendous results is CeraRoot. Based out of Barcelona, Spain, they use a composite known as tetragonal zirconium. This specific composite is used in dentistry because it is 95% ceramic cubic zirconium. A very important characteristic of this material is its affinity for osseointegration. It has a rough surface which allows the bone to grow up against it, anchoring the implant. Ceramic is an ideal alternative when a patient is sensitive to metals. Fully ceramic implants, however, are much to prone to fracture. If an implant were to fracture, it would dramatically effect the healing process. By combining it with the element yttrium, it becomes a more compact composition of molecules that have higher fracture resilience. It is also a one piece design which helps to prevent bacterial colonization. Two piece designs can generate warm pockets from micro-movement which can foster bacterial growth. They also increase the length of the procedure. CeraRoot designed it to be implemented immediately after extraction limiting time spent in the dental office. Patients want to limit the amount of return trips as well. This all has to do with proper care. With CeraRoot, the margin is at the gum line, making it easier to maintain. Zirconium implants are also hypoallergenic and biologically inert so there is no risk of your body rejecting the implant due to an unfavorable reaction. With titanium, some patients are allergic to the alloys used to create the implants. These allergic reactions can take the form of skin rash, muscle pain or muscle fatigue. Studies done using MELISA technology have found that approximately 4% of the subjects tested positive. There are many contrasts you can make between titanium and zirconium implants. A major distinction is the aesthetic result you can get from titanium. As you age, your gum line can recede, giving off an undesirable bluish tint due to the grey color of the titanium implant. Zirconium is much closer to the color of a tooth, creating a more desirable appearance. It is also important to note that zirconium is not conductive which limits bacterial growth and like most metals it also corrodes. As corrosion continues, particles can migrate. In certain situations, these particles can attached themselves to protein molecules, causing an aggressive response from your immune system. Holistic patients will also prefer this approach because zirconium will not interfere with the flow of energy through the body.