We’ve said it before: dental implants are the most natural-looking tooth replacement. They can look just like natural teeth because they are anchored in the jawbone, supporting themselves instead of being connected to neighboring teeth or to a plastic base like bridges or partial dentures.
They can achieve their natural appearance also because they are topped by crowns that are made of a very attractive ceramic. This lets a single tooth replacement match your natural teeth. But you’ve probably learned that most dental implants are made of metal, and you might be wondering if the ceramic crown can conceal the metal part of the implant within. The answer is: yes and no.
Ceramic Crowns Conceal the Upper Part of Implants
Dental implants are often made of three pieces: the implant which replaces the tooth root, the crown (or bridge) which is the visible portion of the implant, and the abutment, which attaches the two.
The abutment is often made of metal, either titanium or gold. In this case, there will be a metallic part of the implant sticking up above the gums that you might worry would lead to a discolored replacement tooth. However, the truth is that dental crowns are usually able to conceal this abutment. While the crowns are translucent on the outside to replicate the appearance of natural tooth enamel, they can have a more opaque layer inside that keeps the metal from showing through.
In some situations, the crown might be more slender and we might be afraid the abutment will show through. In that case, we might decide to use a ceramic abutment instead of a metal one.
Crowns Can’t Conceal Metal Roots
However, the crown can’t conceal the dental implant proper, which sinks into the gums and jawbone. We count on your gums for that, and for most people, the gums are sufficient to do the job: no one will be able to tell that a tooth or bridge is supported by a metal root, not a natural one.
But for some people, gum tissue is especially thin or translucent. This gum tissue won’t be able to conceal the difference. You might end up with gums that look gray around the dental implant. Fortunately, we have an alternative for this situation: metal-free zirconia implants. Zirconia is a ceramic that is as strong as titanium, but it’s white in color, not metallic gray.
Plus, zirconia has several other benefits: it’s more compatible with bone and with gum tissue, so you might experience better integration and less gum irritation with these implants. And they’re an option for people who have had metal allergies and worry that implants might cause a similar effect.
Natural-Looking Dental Implants
If you are losing one or more teeth, dental implants are a way to make your smile whole again. Of course, you want to make it look as natural as possible–you want your replacement teeth to blend in perfectly with your natural teeth. We have options to help us make that happen, even in challenging situations.