Zirconia Implants

What are Zirconia Implants?

If you’re allergic to the metal in titanium implants, or you’re concerned about the long-term safety of having metal in your body, zirconia implants could be the right choice for you. Zirconia is a crystal-like material – sometimes called a ceramic – that shares many of the beneficial properties of titanium while avoiding some of its drawbacks. There has been a lot of excitement around zirconia implants in the dentistry world, and manufacturers of zirconia implants are working to improve their products with each passing year.

What are the Benefits of Zirconia Implants?

Zirconia implants were first approved for use in Canada in 2013, and they’ve quickly attracted interest from patients and dentists because of their ability to function as a substitute for titanium implants. Compared to titanium implants, zirconia implants are beneficial because:

They’re safe for people with metal allergies

Since they’re a ceramic, zirconia implants don’t cause allergic reactions, so there’s no risk of any metal eventually getting into a person’s bloodstream. That makes zirconia implants a safe option for those who have metal sensitivity.

They’re easily accepted by the body

As a material, zirconia doesn’t cause inflammation and integrates better with the jawbone than titanium. Once it’s placed in a patient’s jaw, the bone seamlessly grows around the base of the implant and creates a firm bond, just as it would with the roots of a natural tooth.

They won’t corrode or react with other materials in the mouth

There are concerns that titanium will corrode in the wet environment of the mouth, and that it can react with existing gold or amalgam restorations to cause health problems. Since zirconia implants aren’t metallic or reactive, they don’t suffer from either of those problems.

They’re naturally resistant to harmful plaque bacteria

Compared to titanium, zirconia naturally reduces the rate at which plaque and other bacteria build up, which helps in maintaining long-term oral health.

They can create a more natural look for the mouth

For people with thinner bones or gum tissue, the dark grey colour of titanium implants can sometimes be visible. Comparatively, zirconia implants have a clean white colour that isn’t visible through thin bone or gum tissue.

Out with Titanium, in with Zirconia?

Zirconia implants provide some improvements over titanium implants, but they’re also not perfect. It’s important to keep in mind that titanium implants have been around for a long time, so dentists and the wider dental industry are very familiar with how to produce and use them. By comparison, zirconia

implants are still relatively new, so the processes for manufacturing them and placing them are still being refined.

Here are some points to consider if you’re interested in zirconia implants:

  1. Early zirconia implants, especially small ones, had problems with fracturing
  2. Since they’re so new, there’s very little research about the long-term reliability of zirconia implants
  3. Most dentists have less experience with placing and adjusting zirconia implants
  4. Zirconia implants are more expensive than titanium implants because they’re more challenging to manufacture
  5. Generally, one-piece and two-piece zirconia implants are more expensive than their titanium counterparts

Zirconia Implants – Frequently Asked Questions

Can a person be allergic to zirconia?

Allergies are complex, so it’s impossible to say that absolutely no one may be allergic to zirconia. However, there haven’t been any documented cases of a patient being allergic to their zirconia implants.

I’ve heard/ read that the procedure for getting zirconia implants is shorter – is that true?

The answer is: sometimes.

One-piece zirconia implants don’t require an abutment and crown to be attached later, so in those cases the implant procedure is less invasive and doesn’t involve additional waiting time. However, healing times vary between people, so even though a one-piece zirconia implant may have a shorter surgery time, the healing process may be just as long as it is for a titanium implant or two-piece zirconia implant.

Zirconium is a metal on the periodic table! How can zirconia implants be metal-free?

This is a frequent source of confusion, and a very fair question. Although zirconia does contain some metal atoms, its structure and properties make it a ceramic.

Consider that porcelain can contain aluminum and natural teeth can contain calcium. Aluminum and calcium are both metals on the periodic table, yet porcelain and natural teeth certainly aren’t made from metal. It’s the same idea with zirconia. Although it does contain some metal atoms in it, it’s not a metal and doesn’t have the same properties that a metal would.

I have trouble with teeth grinding (bruxism) – can I still get zirconia implants?

Unfortunately, for patients who heavily grind or clench their teeth, zirconia implants are not ideal.

There simply isn’t enough long-term research around zirconia implants to say that they wouldn’t fracture if they were constantly being placed under pressure from grinding or clenching. A fractured implant would be a significant issue as it would have to be removed and replaced, and that could potentially create a large defect in the jawbone.

Our View on Zirconia Implants at VCCID

Here at VCCID, we believe in taking a holistic approach to dentistry. That means always looking at the big picture and working to understand how oral health supports overall body health. Zirconia implants offer benefits over titanium implants – especially for people with metal sensitivity – but we also recognize that they have limitations too. Equally, although titanium implants have drawbacks, they’re a proven option that has achieved widespread success, and they can be a great dental implant option for many people.

Ultimately, our goal isn’t to convince people that one type of implant is superior compared to the other. We want our patients to feel comfortable with the treatment they’re receiving, so whether they choose zirconia implants or titanium implants, our focus is on sharing our knowledge as dental professionals and helping our patients make an informed decision about which treatment plan best supports their overall health.

At VCCID there’s more than one way to a brighter smile.

Give us a call, request an appointment or come in for a consultation. We’ll help you decide which option is best for you.

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If you have any additional questions about your treatment options, or you want to learn more about our services, we made a page to help guide you. Visit our FAQ page for support and helpful resources.

Covid Phase II:  Dental offices reopening

 

We are “OPEN”

 

UPDATE May 22 2020

 

Dear patients:

 

The BC provincial health officer has given dental offices in BC the green light to reopen under “Phase II” regulations.  These regulations are dictated by WorksafeBC, the provicnical licencing body, the ongoing progression or diminishing of viral cases and current understanding of transmission, particularly in the dental office setting. 

 

The  greatest risk/concern re further spread of this virus is with those that are currently ill or who may have come into contact with someone who has been ill within the past 14 days. In the dental clinic the  concern is the generation of any aerosols that may contain virus particles.

 

Therefore when booking appointments  we will ask a series of questions to determine your risk. For those at risk of being Covid positive, treatment will be deferred until  the 14 day risk of transmission has passed. If treatment is of an urgent nature, we have  additional safety measures in place to provide emergency care, assuming it will not create a greater health risk. Alternatively referrals to a hospital may be  recommended for anyone with severe health risks who cannot be treated in office.

 

For those without contact or risk of Covid, we will be able to book your appointments. Upon arrival to the office you are required to complete a COVID screening  and consent form prior to being seen in the clinic area. The clinical staff will also do an assessment to determine if there is any risk. 

 

Similarly our staff will also be assessed daily to ensure none are ill or have had contact with a potential case of COVID within the previous 14 days.

 

We are required to modify our scheduling to allow for continued distancing and other measures to minimize potential spread. Therefore we anticipate a slightly longer waiting period for available appointments until this Phase II is complete.

 

Our primary concern is your overall health, consequently we have incorporated  additional protocols and precautions during this time to ensure the safety of patients as well as staff from this viral infection.  It involves additional barrier protection, modifying how procedures are done to avoid generating aerosols and sterilization protocols to decontaminate any surfaces that may have come in contact with aerosols. 

 

The good news is that over the past 50+ years the dental industry has learned to manage and control in-office transmission of many viruses, bacteria and outbreaks of  illnesses, and we anticipate these same protocols  will continue to protect yourselves as well as the staff. As we move through Phase II and  see this pandemic lose its “foothold” we expect we will slowly return to a more normal routine and scheduling of appointments. 

 

Of course your dental health is also paramount and therefore finding appointments for your care is also essential. Rest assured that we will be following up and contacting anyone who has missed appointments and those that are currently booked in the weeks ahead. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Dr Peter Balogh and all of us at VCCID