Dental implants are typically composed of three parts: 1) a fixture which acts as a replacement root for the missing tooth, 2) an internal attachment to this fixture, called the “abutment”, which forms the connection to the new replacement tooth, and 3) the replacement tooth or crown. The screw and abutment are historically made of titanium, but why?
Titanium is one of only two known biocompatible materials that can fuse with human bone. During healing, the titanium surface of the dental implant fuses with the surrounding bone, in a process known as osseointegration. This process takes from 3-6 months depending upon the bone quality.
Titanium is widely considered to be the most biocompatible of all metals due to it’s ability to remain inert within the oral cavity and it’s strength and durability under the stress and fatigue of chewing that is placed under in the mouth. The materials ability to be resistant under stress and fatigue is due to a protective oxide film that forms naturally in the presence of oxygen. The oxide film is highly adherent, insoluble, and chemically non-transportable, which prevents any adverse reactions to body tissues.
Titanium dental implants were first used over fifty years ago. Over this period of time there has been enough research to show that they work extremely effectively and reliably. Titanium is also used in hip and knee implants due to its biocompatibility. Titanium has no ill effect on the human body and bonds readily with the new bone which allows it to chemically adhere to the titanium surface.
Titanium has been regarded as the first option for dental implants due to its high success rates and long standing history in a variety of different medical applications, but if you are allergic to titanium or have a known sensitivity to it, zirconium dental implants are another option to consider. Like Titanium, Zirconium is inert and resistant to corrosion. Zirconia has the unique feature of being electrochemically inert since it is not technically a metal but a ceramic(glass). Zirconium is a white ceramic that also integrates to bone and gum showing excellent soft tissue adaptability but generally require longer healing times before the custom tooth is fabricated and the implant is ready to put into function. Zirconium implants are more limited in their application because of their one piece design, but proving to be very predictable and esthetic material to use for tooth replacement.
Dental implants are one of your best tooth replacement options and Dr. Reese has been placing them in the Indianapolis area for over 30 years (view his dental implants gallery to see his work). Having ‘options’ in your implant selection is important for you to receive customized care that best meets your needs. Whether it be the material or the design of the implant, Dr. Reese has several options that are utilized to fit individual needs, vs. forcing your needs into one manufacturer’s design.
Dental implants aren’t just for tooth replacements, they can also be be used for denture replacement or retention of loose dentures. Call 317-882-0228 today to schedule a consultation and see what custom options are available from one of the state’s most accomplished and experienced implant dentists.