Many Cary dental patients are turning to metal-free dentistry. Instead of amalgam fillings, they choose composite and porcelain restorations. Non-metal fillings and crowns can be matched perfectly to your natural tooth color. Some people are sensitive to the metals used in standard fillings. Non-metal materials can prevent potential tooth sensitivity.
Controversy Over Whether Dental Amalgam is Toxic
Another one of the issues with dental amalgam is that it contains a small amount of mercury. Some dental patients are worried that mercury is toxic or dangerous to one’s health.
Both the American Dental Association and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have reviewed volumes of research and concluded that dental amalgam does not pose a health risk.
“FDA has reviewed the best available scientific evidence to determine whether the low levels of mercury vapor associated with dental amalgam fillings are a cause for concern. Based on this evidence, FDA considers dental amalgam fillings safe for adults and children ages 6 and above. The weight of credible scientific evidence reviewed by FDA does not establish an association between dental amalgam use and adverse health effects in the general population.” (FDA)
Is There a Metal-Free Dental Implant?
That said, many individuals do not want any metal in their mouth, regardless of what the FDA and ADA says. This leads to the question “Is there a metal-free alternative to titanium for dental implant procedures?”
Some implant dentists offer Zirconia implants.
What Are Zirconia Implants?
Zirconia tooth implants are routinely marketed as a non-metal alternative to titanium posts.
Is Zirconia Actually Metal-Free?
As it turns out, the answer to this question is involved. And you will get different answers depending on whether you consult a manufacturer of Zirconia tooth implants, an implant dentist who prefers titanium, or a scientist who has no ties to the dental industry.
Consider the following:
“Zirconia crowns are made from zirconium dioxide, a very durable type of metal that’s related to titanium, although it’s categorized as a type of ceramic crown.” (Healthline.com)
“Is it misleading when we call zirconium restorations “metal free”? We all are agreed that titanium is a metal. Zirconium is chemically a metal and has been used in alloys. Its atomic number is 40. To say that Titanium is a metal and that Zirconium is not is showing a poor knowledge of chemistry. Zirconium dioxide, an oxidized form of Zirconium that is used for restorations, is a metal. We would not call rust — iron oxide — anything but a metal. Now we have a new generation of zirconium dioxide implant fixtures and they are advertised as “metal free” and calling them ceramic.” (Osseonews.com)
“Zirconium is a silver-gray transition metal, a type of element that is malleable and ductile and easily forms stable compounds.” (LiveScience.com)
How are Zirconia and Titanium Implants Similar?
Both materials are FDA approved, biocompatible and safe to use for tooth implants.
Why Don’t all Dental Implant Dentists offer Zirconia Implants?
There are several reasons.
- Some dental implant dentists don’t believe they are as durable as titanium implants.
- Some dental implant dentists don’t offer them because they can’t be used in a variety of configurations. For example, they are not suited for complete mouth restorations and implant-anchored dentures.
- Some dental implant dentists don’t perform them because they believe they have a slight risk of fracture–especially narrow diameter Zirconia teeth implants.
- Some dental implant dentists believe they haven’t proven to provide long-term success.
“A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, concluded “Survival rates and marginal bone loss of zirconia implants are promising, but more evidence on long-term outcomes is needed.” (JADA)
So what do you do if you are interested in getting a dental implant but you don’t want titanium in your mouth? Talk to Dr. Acton.
Don’t rely on marketing hype to make critical decisions about dental implants. Consult a doctor who has been placing teeth implants successfully since 2003 and has a legacy of satisfied patients.