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All Zirconia Implants On the WayCosmetic and restorative dentists have been using zirconia abutments as the interface of choice for mounting a porcelain crown to titanium implants for quite some time now.
Zirconia provides ideal "blocking" of the metallic color of metal that can bleed through and taint the appearance of a porcelain crown (yes, premium grades of porcelain teeth have translucency values which makes porcelain teeth look realistic).
Nonetheless, the bleed through problem is not totally controlled for all porcelain products. This diamond hard, tooth colored material still introduces slight discolorations, especially perhaps when the crown is more narrow than wide.
European AdvancementsWell known companies in Europe (Nobel Biocare, Oral Iceberg, Straumann, and others) have been experimenting with an all-zirconia implant device that shows great promise of being a titanium replacement offering improved periodontal health.
Dental plaque is better controlled and allergic reactions to titanium are eliminated. Gingiva is reported to create a snug fit around the implant, attesting to improvied biocompatability issues.
Straumann is planning to introduce a new zirconia-titanium alloy later this year. Experiments using zirconia implants suggest that they integrate into bone as well as titanium.
Will Zirconia Replace Titanium?Zirconia implants are being used in Europe to replace teeth in anterior locations with good results. One study in Germany reports that survival rates are as high as 96.6 percent.
One piece zirconia implant devices currently do not offer the flexibility that today's two piece titanium implants can provide.
Oral Iceberg (Spain) is working on the development of additional implant designs that will offer adjustable features.
Nobel Biocare (well known for Teeth In An Hour) and Straumann (implant devices), in addition to being established world wide, also have a marketing presence in the USA. It would be reasonable to expect that these companies (and others) will be providing access to more tooth replacement options that can finally eliminate the titanium color blocking problem that plagues restorative dentistry for some patients.
Ara Nazarian, DDS
1857 East Big Beaver Road
Troy, MI 48083