Dental implants are the best option for patients who have severely cracked or missing teeth. Performed in single or multitooth restorations, implants are a permanent option for those who might otherwise need something like dentures. For decades, titanium implants were the only choice, but the new zirconia implants offer several benefits, including a holistic one, that are helping them gain momentum as a go-to treatment.
Zirconia implants are safe for those who have sensitivities and allergies to metal, the material also won’t interfere with the body’s energy centers. Used in Europe for several years before receiving FDA-approval in 2011, zirconia implants are gradually making their way into dentists’ offices nationwide. While the long-term efficacy of this new ceramic-based implant material has yet to be determined, Atlanta periodontist/orthodontist Maurice Salama, DMD, says, “We have successfully placed zirconia implants in patients with metal allergies as well as for holistic reasons.” In addition to being a safer option, the bio-inert material will not interfere with the body’s energy centers, unlike conductive metal, which is beneficial for those practicing holistic medicine. According to Little Rock, AR, cosmetic dentist D.J. Dailey, DDS, there is also an aesthetic benefit to using zirconia implants due to the white color of the material, particularly on the front visible teeth.
Titanium implants are the classic alternative. “The titanium implant is metal and this can show through the tissue if it is thin. This leads to a darkness that is not aesthetically pleasing,” Dr. Dailey says. Used since the mid- 60s, titanium implants have been the gold standard for surgically replacing missing teeth. Typically, an anchor piece is placed deep enough into the gumline that it reaches the jawbone, which eventually fuses to the anchor and holds it firmly in place. The artificial tooth is then attached to the post of the anchor. New York cosmetic dentist Robert G. Castracane, DMD, says titanium implants will remain a treatment of choice for years to come. “Titanium is a proven biocompatible material with a 97 percent surgical success rate for implants,” he says.