Dental Implant Materials
Dental implants are constructed from a range of materials such as titanium, stainless steel, titanium alloy and zirconium. Zirconium implants are one of the newest forms of implants and are promoted for their aesthetic qualities, biocompatibility and mechanical structure.
As regards osseointegration; zirconium implants appear to offer the same success rates as titanium implants although there is no long data available to support this view. Some dental professionals view them as less stable and liable to fracture than the standard titanium implant.
Zirconium implants are ‘pure white’ and have an obvious aesthetic advantage in that they are indistinguishable from natural teeth. Titanium and other types of implants are usually silver-black in colour and can sometimes be viewed through the gum. However, the all white zirconium implant blends in well with the other teeth.
The majority of implants are constructed from titanium: this is available in four grades, depending on the levels of iron and carbon within. Titanium alloy implants contain a mixture of aluminium and vanadium alloy and are promoted as being of greater strength and durability than the all titanium variety.
The surface of an implant may be anodised, etched, sandblasted or plasma sprayed to aid with osseointegration.
One of the main issues with implants is that of biocompatibility: they need to be able to integrate with human tissue and bone without any risk of an immunological response. Titanium is safe and readily accepted by the human body and is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction or toxicity.