Benefits of Metal Free Dental Implants
Although traditional dental implants work well, metal free dental implants offer a number of good benefits, including:
- More natural appearance
- Potential for better integration
- Single piece design eliminates abutments
- No worries about metal allergies
- No electric currents, magnetic fields, or corrosion
Titanium dental implants have long served to give us great cosmetic results, but not everyone is happy with the appearance. People with thin or translucent gums can find that their gums look grey after getting titanium implants.
It’s also possible that metal free dental implants can be healthier for the bone. The ceramic material is more similar to bone and therefore might be accepted better. In addition, traditional dental implants have an abutment—a connection piece between the implant and the restoration—which can accumulate bacteria and increase the risk of gum disease around the implant, leading to bone loss. Metal free implants do not have this connection piece—they connect directly to the dental crown.
Metal allergies are unusual, but they are real, occurring in about 0.6% of individuals. People who experience metal allergies can experience general bodily symptoms related to titanium implants, and likely will have their implant fail. Other people are bothered by the electromagnetic properties of metals, including their potential to interfere with the physical—or metaphysical—functions of the body.
How Metal Free Dental Implants Work
Dental implants were made possible by the discovery that the body was able to integrate titanium into the bone. Of course, there are many other materials that integrate well with bone, including many ceramics. But until now we haven’t had any that were strong enough to fill the role of dental implants.
But zirconia, or, more properly, yttria-stabilized zirconia is a material with the necessary strength as well as the biocompatible properties needed to function as a dental implant. And it functions well.
Success Rates of Metal Free Dental Implants
Metal free dental implants haven’t been around as long as titanium dental implants, so we don’t have 20-year data on dental implant lifetimes, but so far zirconia dental implants seem to be as successful as titanium implants. In a 5-year study of 831 zirconia implants, the survival rate was 95%, which is comparable to titanium dental implants. But it gets even better. The study included smokers as well as non-smokers, and smokers are at a high risk for dental implant failure. Although smokers accounted for only 15% of the study population, they accounted for 70% of zirconia implant failures. Excluding the smokers gives a 98% survival rate for nonsmokers, while smokers had a survival rate of 77%.
Since experience teaches us that most dental implant failures occur in the first few years, it seems likely that metal free dental implants will have long-term survival rates comparable to titanium dental implants, if not better.
If you have want to learn more about metal free dental implants in Orange County, please contact Rice Dentistry in Irvine today for a consultation.