Titanium has been the go-to biomedical metal since for decades. In fact, it was initially used for dental purposes as early as the 1940s. It has remained popular due to its biocompatibility and high resistance to corrosion — an important trait for use inside the incredibly harsh environment of the body.
That’s why traditionally, titanium is used to create the “root” of a dental implant. However, while titanium dental implants may be the right choice for many people, that doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for everyone. Luckily, they aren’t the only option.
Are Your Gums Thick or Thin?
You may have been told by a dentist at some point that you have either thick or thin gums. Most people have gums that fall generally into one category or another, based primarily on genetics. For example, people of Asian heritage are more likely to have thin gums. And of course, some people have more pigment in their gums than others, resulting in some people’s gums having a more translucent appearance than others.
If you’re one of those people with thick gums, a titanium dental implant could be perfect for you. But if you’re one of those thin-gummed people, there could be an unexpected problem with a titanium implant: Aesthetics.
On a person with thick gums, the grey color of a titanium implant is completely imperceptible buried in the tissue. But for someone with thin gums, that grey could give your gums a darker tint, bringing down the brightness of your smile.
That’s where zirconia implants come into the picture.
New Metal-Free Dental Implants
Even though titanium remains the most popular option for dental implants, it’s certainly not the only one. In fact, zirconia implants are growing in popularity for a number of reasons.
Zirconium dioxide, often casually called zirconia, is a chemically unreactive ceramic. It’s actually the same basic material as cubic zirconia, which is used as a synthetic diamond substitute — that should tell you how strong it is! In fact, zirconia has more twice the compressive strength of pure titanium.
For those with metal allergies or people who are simply concerned about having metal in their bodies, this metal-free alternative can be very attractive. And when researchers have compared the success rate of zirconia dental implants with titanium ones, the results have been excellent, suggesting that zirconia implants are at least as reliable as titanium ones, if not more so.
Best of all, since the natural color of zirconia is white, just like your real tooth root, even those with thin gums can get zirconia implants without fear of darkening their smile.
Dental implants are a tried-and-true, reliable option to replace missing teeth permanently. In fact, well-cared-for dental implants can last decades! Don’t let thin gums prevent you from filling that gap in your smile and having your full set of teeth back.