Types of Dental Implant Materials — Titanium vs Zirconia

Today’s modern dental implants were developed through an accidental discovery in medical research back in 1952. A Swedish doctor by the name of Branemark found that when titanium was placed into contact with bone and left undisturbed, the bone grew right against the surface making the titanium objects unremovable without cutting out the bone around the titanium. This then developed into today’s implants.

HISTORY OF DENTAL IMPLANT MATERIALS

Prior to this and even since then, other materials have been tested and tried. Vitreous carbon was one material which worked very well in fusing to bone, but being brittle and having other issues made it impractical for use as a dental implant. Titanium seemed like an ideal material—its properties made it useful, practical and predictable. The initial implants were pure titanium, but they were a bit too soft so an alloy was developed to overcome the negative properties.

Since titanium dental implants have been in use, there has not been one report of an allergy or reaction to the metal itself. Nevertheless, there are some people who have either an allergy or sensitivity to other metals (e.g. prevalence of nickel allergy is about 5%) and/or simply have concerns about any metals within the body.

ZIRCONIUM – THE METAL-FREE OPTION?

implant system

In order to allay these concerns and have an implant option for these people, several companies have conducted further research and development into “metal-free” implants. This has led to the use of another metal called zirconium, which is just one row below titanium in the chemical periodic table. Zirconium first became popular in its crystalline cubic zirconia form due to its resemblance to a flawless diamond. For dental use, it is used in the form of zirconium oxide ZrO2. It is not pure ZrO2—there are trace amounts of another metal called hafnium (Hf) and the oxide is combined with yttrium (another metal) to improve its properties. The result is a white opaque-looking product and in this form, labeled as a ceramic, although there are metal atoms within the material.

With the search for alternative implant materials, it was discovered that zirconia also fused to bone (osseointegrated) much like titanium. It first became approved for use in Europe in 2008 and in Canada in 2013.

Both materials can integrate with bone with equal success provided certain protocols are followed. We do, however, have a much longer history with titanium. Some of my patients have titanium that is still functioning after 20-35 years. We may find the same success with zirconia, but until the material has been tested for the same amount of time as titanium, we simply will not know.

ZIRCONIA VS. TITANIUM – ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

dental implant

Advantages of Zirconia Dental Implants

No dark colour of the metal showing through the gums

No corrosion of the zirconia as with titanium

No piezo-electric currents between dissimilar metal in the mouth

It is thermally non-conductive

Disadvantages of Zirconia Dental Implants

Zirconium implants (the implant body and the post or abutment) on the other hand, are made as one piece. Therefore, the only option for the prosthetics is to cement the teeth into place. Secondly, there is very little room for error—one has to be very careful not to place an implant at an improper location or angle. Therefore surgical placement and volume of bone is absolutely critical.

With titanium implants, I am often able to place the implant, leave it buried under the gums and graft the area simultaneously. If it had been a zirconium implant which sticks above the gums, the ability to graft would be reduced or risky, and may need to do a separate procedure first to ensure the bone is 100%.

Both types of implants require several months for the bone to fuse or grow against the implant before we can place the final teeth. With one-piece zirconia implants, this healing phase can be a little more tricky as we cannot bury the implant under the gum tissue. if there is pressure or movement of the implant, it will not osseointegrate.

Another concern is the long-term strength. We no longer see fracture of titanium implants since the alloys were introduced, but zirconia implants have been known to fracture. If this occurs, usually the only option is to remove them and that can create a large defect in the bone. The smaller diameter implants (3.25 mm) are at the greatest risk. Therefore anyone with heavy function (clenching or grinding) probably would not be an ideal candidate for zirconia.

Advantages of Titanium Dental Implants

Titanium implants are much more versatile than zirconia because they can be made as one piece or two-piece systems. In two-piece systems, the implant replaces the root and is generally placed at the level of the underlying bone. Attached to this is a post or abutment—the part that sticks through the gums and is used to support or attach the teeth.

Two piece systems are a lot more versatile and offer many more options prosthetically. They can be used for overdentures (removable teeth) that snap into place as well as permanent teeth that are cemented or screwed onto the implants. Additionally, the implant can even be placed slightly off-angle and an angled or customized post can be fitted to correct it. Zirconium implants can also be modified if they are slightly off but are not as prosthetically ideal as what can be done with a separate post.

In some cases, placing an implant slightly off-angle is not a surgical error, but rather a necessity due to the volume and location of bone in the implant site. I could go on for pages, but basically titanium implants offer much more versatility with the final teeth and flexibility with their surgical placement.

Disadvantages of Titanium Dental Implants

The only downside of Titanium implant is that the metal implant is visible under light, it also causes concern for a minority of people with a history of allergy to metals.

Dr. Hung & Associates Dental Center

5 out of 5 stars based on 49 Dental Implant and Dental Implants reviews.

Patient Review By Teresa

My husband and I attended Dr Hung's clinic. I had 2 abutments + 2 crowns attached to implants which had already been inserted in NZ, and 10 crowns and 2 fillings - cost $5300NZD . My husband had 2 posts inserted, fillings and 4 crowns $1800NZD. At our appointment time we had the following - high tech xrays, a recommended treatment plan (which is discussed and you sign and agree to what you want completed), treatment started straight away, a 2 hour session and again the following day. A day off (while the crowns were made in their on-site Lab) Then one more day of fitting the crowns etc and we were completed. They arranged a Follow-up appointment to fit in with our plans which was arranged for about 10 days later. We paid half prior to starting treatment and the final half at the end of treatment. Dr Hung is in attendance at the clinic to oversee all work. We were extremely impressed with the clinic altogether from beginning to end. The entire process was efficient, painless and of high technical standard. We cannot find fault in their service in any way and will highly recommend them to our friends and family who may require any kind of dental treatment from simple to extensive orthodontal services. Thank you to the entire team from the receptionists, the technical assistants, the dentists and of course the rest of the team who allow a streamlined service to run so efficiently and effectively. Teresa and Bernie from New Zealand. By the way, the work we had would have cost us over $20,000 at home

- Teresa

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Asad A

I had 19 porcelain crowns put in (the 20th tooth went walkies between gums). The process invloved grinding my teeth to sort of sticks. all together 6 appointments. two 4 hour ones to grind the teeth down 2 days in a row, upper and lower jaw one day at a time. There was a fake replica put on my teeth while porcelain crowns were being made. the 3 days later the crowns were put on. I saw really good reviews on whatclinic. So I went down to the clinic to get the first impressions. And the were great. I signed up straight away. The best decision I made. It was worth it. I highly recommend it.

- Asad A

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By tamara edwards

very friendly and professional and no pain

- tamara edwards

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By ATIF A

this is my first time to do a tooth implants , I'm very happy with treatment i got at Dr.hung centre , it was more than what i was expecting , professionalism was the main thing , i was so afraid to do a tooth implants and dr.hung and his staff make it so much easy for me , they listen to the customer and they deliver a good job with quality , i come all the way from middle east of OMAN to do it , and I'm very glad i did , and for sure i will go there again . I recommend this dental center to anyone loves his teeth 😉 ATIF AFIF

- ATIF A

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Robert V

I received three dental implants, one extraction and fourteen crowns. This was conducted over a five day period with a few additional days to monitor progress. I have no hesitation in recommending this clinic. Dr Hung, Dr Uan and all the staff are amazing, my experience here has exceeded my expectations.

- Robert V

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Nicholas Green N

As good as any dental care I've experienced in Australia or New Zealand for a fraction of the price. Very professional establishment, really appreciated the airport pickup (Ho Chi Minh is a very big and daunting city!). I had 5 crowns and a complicted (2 teeth on a single implant) implant, all completed in a few visits over 2 weeks, and I'm very happy with the results. The new teeth look very natural.

- Nicholas Green N

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Neil May N

All of my teeth were badly worn, I had not had any molars for over 50 years and had used my incisor teeth as molars, they were worn down to the gums. I first came to Vietnam in Sept. 2014 and went home with a complete set of upper teeth and implants and bone grafts in the lower jaw. I returned in April 2015 and had the lower right molars done however there was some problems with the bone grafts on the lower left jaw They needed to be redone and the stitches and wound would not heal. Dr Hung, Dr Lam and Dr Uan did a great job in rectifying the situation. I returned in Oct 2015 and the new bone grafts had taken and the job has been completed. I now have a full mouth of teeth, can eat properly for the first time in 50 years and have a winning smile. Dr Hung and his staff have done a wonderful job, the clinic is world class, the care and attention received has been very professional and far beyond my original expectations and the end result is fantastic. The cost has been a fraction of what I had been quoted in Australia to have the same work done. I have received numerous compliments on my new teeth and I have already recommended Dr Hung and his staff to many people and will continue to do so. I had received quotes for dental work in Australia which were prohibitive. I came to Vietnam with a friend after doing some extensive research on the internet. I inspected and received quotes from several different clinics in HCMC and was impressed with the welcome, the clinic, the professionalism and the dental care program offered by Dr Hung and his staff. They were certainly the most impressive in all aspects of the offer I received. Dr Hung, Dr Lam and Dr Uan certainly lived up to their offer and my expectations and I now have a wonderful smile and efficient dentures. Thank you.

- Neil May N

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Robert Clark

Both myself and my husband received treatment at this clinic. My husband had 12 crowns,one wisdom tooth removed and an implant. I had 2 crowns and 1 implant. Right from our first consultation we were impressed with the clinic which was immaculate and the service all the staff gave to us was first rate. The treatment plan was explained to us and throughout treatment each stage was explained in English. The dentists and their staff were considerate and very professional. Minimal discomfort was experienced with the anaesthetic injections and then none. We had regular reviews over the following 14 days and we are absolutely delighted with the results. The service has been second to none. The original costings were accurate and the only addition was with some extra medication that was required. We are delighted with our new wonderful teeth.

- Robert Clark

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Malcolm James Hawthrone and Darryl Kevin Holder

We found the clinic Dr.Hung Dental on the internet so through inquiring. We dicided to contact the surgery to have one dental work done. I am very pleased with the professional services with my teeth and the staff who go well out of their way to please you...Thier work is way beyond any dental work I have ever experienced in my life (very very good). So I will be promoting this service in Australia. Thank you Dr.Hung ang your staff.

- Malcolm James Hawthrone and Darryl Kevin Holder

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By An Nguyen

My husband and I were recently looking for a dentist who could do implant & cosmetic dentistry. We found Doctor Hung by his website. During our visit, we were really impressed by his passion and love for his profession. His assistances, Dr Anh Tuan, Dr Truong Linh, Dr Thuy and his hygienists there were gentle and caring. You can believe it! The staffs at the desk were also very nice too. We will return there on Dec to finish 20 crowns on implants. They're the best!

- An Nguyen

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Mary M

I cannot speak more highly of the treatment I received at this clinic. I am absolutely impressed with the totally painless and professional care I received. The staff are friendly and very empathic and the clinic is immaculate. Overall, even if you don't like dentists, you will not be disappointed with the care and treatment you receive here. If, like me, you are dental phobic, you won't be whrn you leave! I can recommend Dr. Hung without reservation-and that is somethingI never do

- Mary M

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Mihai Ciobanu

I was extremely happy and impressed with the treatment and service we received. My wife and I were very happy with the price. We had 13 implants and 27 crowns. The treatment went well and the staff are all professional. I highly recommend Dr. Hung and the clinic to everyone in Australia.

- Mihai Ciobanu

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Daryl Chandler

Were you pleased with the treatment?I am more than pleased with my treatment. I had 4 implants 17 crowns a bridge and bone graft and all this was done in 7 days but my treatment was not rushed. Price was exactly as quoted and even cheaper as we were given discount. Clinic is very modern & clean and staff speak very good English and can help you with everything from transport, food, accommodation. The staff treat each other like one big family and include you in there family when you arrive. My teeth were so bad that I was embarrassed to smile now I have a perfect set I have to learn how to smile and show them off.The hotel staff said wow when I first arrived back at the hotel with my new teeth. I am returning in 6 months to have permanent crowns installed on my teeth and to have 4 more implants for my back molars which have been missing for 30 years and then my treatment is completed. If anyone reading this has any questions or would like to see before and after photos which are amazing feel free to contact me. There are a lot of dental clinics in Ho Chi Minh City but you need to choose the right one and I cannot speak highly enough of this clinic.

- Daryl Chandler

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Illguth

We were recommended to Dr.Hung through friend, who previously had dental work done on a couple of occasions and where more than happy with the result. Having never been to Vietnam, and having so many disastrous stories about overseas dental + surgical mishaps, we were very hesitant at first. However on our arrival we were soon put as ease by the wonderful staff from the clinic, who met us at the airport. Dr.Hung took great care of us, never once risking any quick fix dental treatment. So we were very relieved and can not sing his praises high enough. His dental skill are 2nd to none, even if the drill scores the life out of you. My husband had 5 implants and one wisdom tooth pulled out in one afternoon and didn’t need any painkiller after treatment all though he was given plenty to take with him. I was in awe of the clinics technological skills. The consultation between patient, doctor, staff before treatment began, was a big eye opener, and relief to be so well informed about the up coming procedure. We were then given the choice to make any changes and have the final say. We probably expected too much dental work to be done in a short time, but realize it’s for our o0wn good to comeback a 2nd time when everything in healed properly, there by making sure the job is done perfectly. As an added bonus, we got to have a holiday in Vietnam and do lots of bargaining(shopping). We are happy to return for more treatment knowing we are in safe hands.

- Illguth

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Basile

I'm very happy with the dental work and I will recommend this clinic to my friends. I have done implants and dental crowns together with my wife. Also the staff are very friendly and beautiful.

- Basile

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Sun

I am happy this clinic result. I have done dental bridge and implants. I will recommend this clinic to my friend.

- Sun

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Barbara K

We are very pleased with our treatment. The staff try very hard to help us understand the procedures. Let us know our options and explained the pricing of options clearly. Nothing was too much trouble and they are dedicated professionals. We highly recommend them.

- Barbara K

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Tanya

Everything is excellent. The staffs are nice and efficient. I will recommend many people to come to this clinic.

- Tanya

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Richie

Very pleased with the results. Dr Hung and his team were very professional, very friendly and highly committed to delivering world class service and results. I thoroughly recommend Dr Hung and his team to anyone requiring dentistry and wish them well in future. Will be back in six months time.

- Richie

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review By Swrabirb

Our treatment at the clinic was outstanding, the staff service was fantastic, caring and reassuring. The cost of our dental work was a quarter of the price in Australia and can be reassured the quality and professionalism was exceptional. Perfection.

- Swrabirb

5 out of 5 stars on