Zirconium dioxide, otherwise known as zirconia, is a relatively rare naturally occurring, water-insoluble mineral that looks similar to fine white sand or white clay. Zirconium dioxide has been synthesized and manufactured commercially for various purposes. The cubic crystalline variety of zirconia has been well known in the jewellery business for many years as a man-made gemstone and as an imitation diamond. Various forms of zirconia have also been used in industrial and commercial applications as heat-resistant coatings, furnace linings, metal-working crucibles, ceramic glazing, insulation, and so on.The use of zirconia dental implants is a relatively new development. Dental crowns made from zirconia have been widely applied by dentists worldwide, but the benefits and possible risks of zirconium dental implants are presently still being reviewed and debated by researchers and dental practitioners.
Titanium dental implants have been in use for more than 30 years; and the recorded success rates of titanium dental implants are in the high 90s. But titanium implants do have some possible drawbacks. Although rare in occurrence, some patients develop an allergic reaction to the minute amounts of nickel that can be found in just about all medical- and dental-grade titanium alloys. This allergic reaction can cause pain, discomfort, swelling, bleeding, and other types of allergy-related complications. Titanium has also not been disproved as a possible carcinogen, and the dissolution of the metal into surrounding tissues can possibly lead to autoimmune diseases (e.g., cancer). Titanium dental implants can also be noticeably visible if they are located at the front part of the maxilla or mandible. These aesthetic and health issues in relation to titanium implants have led dental implant manufacturers to look into the suitability of other materials as possible replacements for titanium and titanium-alloy implants.
Zirconium dioxide (or zirconia) has a number of properties that make it a suitable material for dental implants. Similar to titanium, or even more so, is the very low bio reactivity of zirconium dioxide. The currently available data has so far not indicated notable instances of significant bio reactive reactions with zirconium dental implants. Initial studies also indicate that zirconium dental implants are, at the very least, comparable to titanium in their ability to bond with bone tissue (osseointegration). It also seems that zirconium dental implants integrate more easily with soft tissue in comparison with titanium.
Zirconium, like titanium, is a transition metal; but zirconium dioxide is a metal oxide. Thus, zirconium dioxide has properties that are the opposite of those of pure metals or metal alloys — such as low thermal conductivity and low electrical conductivity (although zirconium dioxide has a high ionic conductivity). Zirconia also has a natural white color; therefore “zirconium” dental implants are not noticeable at all compared with titanium implants. Zirconium dioxide also has the requisite hardness and toughness that make it resistant to mechanical strains and abrasion.
Since zirconium dental implants haven’t been around for as long as the titanium implants, the available clinical data that support their effectiveness and safety are still inadequate; but, the latest studies do indicate that zirconia dental implants can become the dental implant of the future.
For more information about Zirconia Dental Implants feel free to Contact Brighton Implant Clinic or Call us on 0800 111 6623.