We understand that some people are uncomfortable with the use of metal in their restorations, even the use of a metal as biocompatible as titanium in dental implants. That’s why we offer zirconia metal-free dental implants.

However, there are some people who may insist that zirconia implants are also metal. They may make statements like “zirconium is a metal, look at the periodic table.” Although these confusing statements may seem convincing, they are not true: zirconia is not metal, and zirconia implants are as metal-free as your natural teeth.

Most Ceramics Contain Metal Atoms

A woman smiling with her new dental implants from Rice Dentistry in Irvine California, Orange CountyPeople making this argument don’t realize that just because something contains a metal doesn’t mean it is a metal. Ceramics are by definition non-metals, but most ceramics you encounter every day include some kind of metal.

Let’s take porcelain, for example, which was long used in dental restorations and is still referred to by name in porcelain veneers (though they’re unlikely to be made of porcelain). Porcelain is made from the clay mineral kaolinite, which includes aluminum. But that doesn’t make porcelain a metal.

Another popular ceramic for making veneers is lithium disilicate. Lithium is a metal, but lithium disilicate is a ceramic.

Your Enamel Contains Metal

Anyone who took high school chemistry knows that zirconium is a metal, but they also know that calcium is a metal. And we know that calcium is everywhere in the body, although it’s mostly used in your bones and your teeth. Your tooth enamel–the pearly white outer layers of your tooth, is actually 96% mineral, mostly hydroxyapatite. Hydroxyapatite is a calcium apatite.

But despite the fact that your tooth enamel contains the metal calcium, no one is arguing that your teeth are made of metal.

Zirconia Is a Ceramic

Zirconia, like many ceramics, contains metal atoms, but it’s not a metal. It’s a ceramic, one which combines the biocompatible aspects of ceramics with a very high strength–stronger than titanium in some ways.

Zirconia is zirconium dioxide (ZrO2). This is a chemically unreactive ceramic, so it doesn’t react chemically to anything in your mouth. The zirconia used in our dental implants is called partially stabilized zirconia, which includes small amounts of yttria, also known as yttrium oxide (Y2O3, also not a metal).

So, although there are metal atoms in zirconia, it’s not a metal: it’s as metal-free as your natural teeth.

Don’t Let People Confuse You

We understand that when you’re trying to make important decisions like what type of implant to get or which dentist to work with, there can be many difficult ideas to consider. Don’t let people confuse you with untruths like this one. Walk away from people trying to deceive you. Work with people who earn your trust by telling you the straight truth.

If you have more questions about dental implants in Orange County, please call (949) 551-5902 today for an appointment with an implant dentist at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.