Ceramic vs Metal Implants
Ceramic vs. Metal Implants
Dental implants are, without question, the most natural, long-lasting and comfortable replacements for missing teeth available. They can be used to replace one tooth or all the teeth in your mouth.
The Problem with Missing Teeth
Missing teeth can be problematic in a number of ways.
The most obvious is, of course, aesthetics. It is simply not attractive to have a large gap that shows whenever we smile. We can become self-conscious about it and can become a barrier to feeling comfortable with other people. Imagine what life would be like if, every time we wanted to smile or laugh, we clenched our lips instead. It would not only affect how we relate to the world, but how the world relates to us. The joy in sharing something smile-worthy would be lost and give people the impression we had no sense of humor or, perhaps, did not like or appreciate them.
Missing teeth can cause other changes in our appearance, as well:
- The bone surrounding the gap begins to dissolve and become reabsorbed by the body because there is nothing to anchor it. This produces wrinkles and other signs of aging, often prematurely.
- Teeth “fill out” our face. Without them the skin can begin to sag and lose volume. As it drops, we can begin to look sullen, our cheeks can look sunken, and the excess skin can become jowls.
Depending on which tooth or teeth are missing, we can develop a “whistle” or even a lisp. This can become inhibitory in terms of our willingness to communicate or make it difficult for people to understand us.
Missing teeth inhibit our ability to chew food properly, which may be more important than you think. Over the past few years, the impact of poor digestion on overall health has become well documented. It affects everything from mood and emotions to the development of food allergies and autoimmune diseases. Since there are enzymes in saliva that help to begin the process of digestion before food has even reached the esophagus, being able to chew it thoroughly is vital.
The Domino Affect
Teeth not only support bone growth but help to keep the surrounding teeth in their proper place. With the loss of bone and nothing to prevent them from moving, the teeth surrounding any gaps can become loose and begin to shift. As they do, they contribute to all the problems caused by the missing teeth in the first place.
Implants vs. Dentures
Simply put, Implants look and feel completely natural and can reverse any of the problems created by missing teeth because they are placed within the jawbone and are permanent. Apart from the inconvenience and various types of discomfort that dentures can cause, they do nothing to help stabilize the jaw. In fact, because they rest on top of the jawbone, they can contribute to its being ground down due to the compressive stress as you chew.
A dental implant is, essentially, an artificial replacement for the root of a tooth. Its shape is similar to a screw with a flattened bottom, and it is screwed into the jawbone.
Attached to the implant is a connector, called an abutment. This extends beyond the jaw and holds and supports the crown, which is the tooth-like portion of the apparatus.
The Two Types of Implants: Metal and Ceramic
Over the years, more and more people have become concerned about the use of metal in their mouths and the possibility that it may be affecting their health. The source of this concern is the toxic mercury that has been used in amalgam fillings for the past 150 years. Also, while not necessarily toxic, other metals used in such fillings can produce an allergic reaction in some people. To address these concerns, ceramic fillings were developed.
Metal implants are made from titanium. In the more than 40 years of their use, there are virtually no reports of adverse side effects due to the titanium. In fact, titanium has a unique characteristic: it actually encourages the bone in which it is placed to grow over and bond with it. This provides enormous strength and stability for the bone, as well as the surrounding teeth and the crown(s).
Also, consider this: Titanium is one of the primary metals used to build a spaceship, so it must be strong enough to maintain its structural integrity in the face of a tremendous amount of compressive and thermal stress.
In fact, the long-term success rate of titanium implants is 94 – 97%, one of the highest of all medical devices.
Ceramic implants are made from the element zirconium. In their earlier stages, they were not particularly biocompatible and did not bond well with bone, but in recent years, improvements have been made to address this.
Apart from addressing the concerns of those worried about using metal (though they are not 100% metal free), there is another benefit to ceramic implants. Depending upon the shape of a person’s gum line and the thickness of the gum tissue, there have been issues with the gray/silver color of the titanium showing. Since zirconium is the color of bone, this is not an issue with ceramic implants.
They are, however, ceramic and, strong as they may be—which is quite strong at this point—no one has suggested building a spaceship out of zirconium. While they do have excellent longevity, they are more subject to fractures than metal implants.
Proponents of ceramic implants claim that titanium, as a metal, is subject to corrosion. This is still a matter for discussion.
Which type of implant is right for you?
If you are considering getting implants, the best thing to do is schedule a consultation and discuss the matter with Dr. Briscoe. His extensive advanced training in dental restorations and years of experience with hundreds of patients will enable him to evaluate your specific situation and develop a personalized treatment plan that will deliver the best possible outcome for you.