Comparing Titanium to Zirconia Implants


Titanium has been the material of choice for dental implants for many years. Today, there is also the option of using zirconia for dental implants. They are typically sold as a non-metal option, being made of a ceramic material. Though it’s not necessarily true that they are metal free, zirconia does have an atomic number of 40; they are a transitional metal, often appearing more like crystal, making them more compatible for patients with metal concerns. Additionally, zirconia is white in color, meaning the device will more closely resemble your natural structure and be even less visible. Working with our staff at Westlake Oral and Plastic Surgery, we can review the attributes of both materials and help you make a decision that suits your needs best.

A dental implant is a device that we surgically place to reinstate the root of a tooth after a tooth is missing. If the patient is missing a tooth, they are also missing the root. We want to reestablish that connection to the jawbone, requiring the recreation of the root. Once the implant is in place, we can then secure a single tooth, or it can serve as an anchor for another device such as a dental bridge, partial denture or full denture.

Zirconia implants are considerably newer in concept, they have been used since 2007 compared to titanium implants that have been used since the 1960’s, so more information has been gathered on the long-term success with titanium. Though we do have longer studies from Europe on the success of zirconia.

•  Biocompatible: Both materials are biocompatible, this means that the body will not reject them, they both have properties that offer high acceptance rates.
•  Osseointegrate: Both materials have been shown to successfully osseointegrate. Osseointegrate is the medical term that indicates healing, the bone successfully heals and grows around the device, bonding the bone and implant together.
•  Little to No Allergic Reaction: There have been a few very rare reports of allergic reactions to titanium, and there are no reports of allergic reaction to zirconia.
•  FDA Approved: Both materials have been approved by the FDA for implantation into the jaw bone performed by a medical professional. They are considered safe with no notable adverse reactions.

Zirconia implants are generally placed as one piece. This means that it is the root and tooth all together as one unit, versus traditional titanium implants that use the implant with the tooth placed on top.

In general, titanium is the preferred choice. Titanium implants are:

•  Lower in cost.
•  The fact that it comes in three pieces means that we have more control of the tooth.
•  Is a stronger material.
•  Has more history behind its success.


There are two main reasons a patient may consider zirconia over titanium for their dental implant. Zirconia implants are:

•  White in color, if the patient has considerable tissue loss, the implant will be less visible than the dark metal.
•  Nickel free, though the level of nickel in titanium is scarce, some patients are highly sensitive to it. Other patients worry about the obvious metal of titanium even though zirconia is also a metal, most patients recognize it as being a crystal and therefore more holistic.


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