Implant dentistry has long-term success in restoring patients’ lost teeth and giving them the chance to enjoy the quality of life. Having dental implants allow them to enjoy eating any kind of food they want without worry. Also, they are more comfortable and confident when they talk and laugh their hearts out. More importantly, further bone loss or degeneration is avoided. Thanks to zirconia and titanium dental implants, patients no longer have to rely on dentures alone for replacement teeth.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root inserted into the jawbone via surgery to support a dental prosthesis such as a dental crown, bridge, or denture. It’s a fixed dental restoration and sturdy tooth replacement. Initially, the zirconia or titanium screw is inserted into the patient’s jawbone via implant surgery.
After the oral surgeon performs the implant placement, the patient needs three to four months to heal. During the healing period, the artificial tooth root fuses with the soft tissue and bone that support the natural teeth. The fusion of the implant screw and the natural bone is called osseointegration. Furthermore, it promotes bone growth while it prevents further bone loss and jawbone deterioration.
After the osseointegration takes place, the implant now becomes a stable and permanent anchor of the artificial tooth. Patients can choose to have either a tooth bridge, crown, or denture as prosthesis. Yet, with the use of porcelain material for the prosthesis, the patient’s smile looks so natural that others can’t tell the difference.
Benefits of having dental implants
- No more teeth moving or shifting into different direction after tooth loss.
- No teeth gaps and broken smiles caused by missing teeth.
- The patient’s oral health is improved.
- The patient feels more confident when eating, smiling, or laughing.
- Patients with dental implants maintain a youthful and vibrant look.
Zirconia versus titanium dental implants
A tooth implant can be made of zirconia or titanium since both materials are biocompatible and safe. This indicates that titanium and zirconia implants are non-toxic when they fuse with the human body.
The titanium dental implant is usually composed of titanium alloy. The material has been used in dentistry since the 1960s. In rare cases, some patients have an allergic reaction to metal that they prefer another material option. Meanwhile, zirconia dental implants are ceramic and were introduced to the dentistry market in 2007. Here is a comparison between the two materials for dental implants so patients can be guided in choosing the right material for them.
- Aesthetic. Some patients with titanium implants have become concerned about the grey line that’s visible below their gum line. Patients whose gum or bone tissues are thin may choose ceramic abutment so that the grey line does not show through. Meanwhile, zirconia’s ceramic material shows a natural look, without gum tissues showing through.
- Durability. Titanium implants are highly durable and they resist fractures. Zirconia is as durable as titanium, only that its reduced elasticity may lead to microfractures.
- Placement. Oral surgeons are becoming experts in placing two-piece titanium implants because they have been doing these for more than 50 years. Meanwhile, the single-piece zirconia implants are new still new to the market. The single-piece implant is more challenging to place as opposed to titanium.
Two main types of dental implants
In general, a patient needs to have sufficient jawbone density so that the bone structure is strong enough to support the implant. In this case, the oral surgeon places an endosteal implant in the patient’s jawbone. Typically, the dental surgeon uses a titanium screw for this implant procedure.
Meanwhile, patients who do not have enough jawbone density may be placed with subperiosteal implants. This type of implant is placed on the gums yet above the jawbone. An oral surgeon performs this when the patient does not want to or cannot go through a pretreatment procedure, such as:
- Bone grafting uses bone additives to regenerate the bones in your jaw so that it’s sufficient to host an implant.
- A sinus lift involves adding bone under the sinus in case the patient’s natural bone deteriorates because of loss of upper teeth.
- Ridge expansion may be necessary if the patient has a narrow jaw. In this procedure, the oral surgeon divides the ridge bone and creates a space to add the graft material. This way, there’s enough space where the implant can be placed.
Other techniques in implant placement
Oral surgeons and dental implant specialists use 3D technology and digital X-ray imaging for effective treatment planning. They need to map out where to place the implant and what technique to use. They consider the patient’s oral health condition before they decide what technique to use for the surgery. Here are the alternative techniques in implant placement.
The oral surgeon places all-on-four implants when a patient needs a full arch replacement teeth. In this technique, there are four implants inserted to the patient’s available bone structure. This way, the patient no longer needs to undergo bone augmentation. The dental surgeon uses a special type of abutment that’s durable enough to hold the temporary dental prostheses. The healing period takes about six months while the patient follows a strictly soft diet. Then, the dental implant specialist places the permanent full arch and the patient may go back to his or her regular diet.
Immediate load implants
For patients who have healthy natural bone and gums, they are good candidates for immediate load or same-day implants. In this technique, the dental implant specialist places the implant and temporary tooth replacement on the same appointment. While the patient’s gums are healing, he or she needs to take it easy on the diet and avoid eating hard or crunchy food. As soon as the gums heal, the permanent tooth replacement can already be placed.
Mini dental implants are smaller and narrower as the size of a toothpick. Placing mini implants are less invasive, unlike traditional implants. Dental implants specialists use this technique for patients who want to transition from removable to fixed dentures.
Don’t wait for too long before you replace your missing teeth. See your London dentist today for an initial consultation and ask about zirconia and titanium implants.