Titanium Dental Implants
There are a number of options available to patients who need to restore one or more missing teeth in their mouth. One of the more popular options is dental implants because of its stability and longevity. Dental implants are most commonly made of titanium and provide the patient with a stable and secure foundation for eating and speaking. A dental implant can support an individual tooth, a few teeth, or even an entire arch.
A traditional denture can be a great option for some patients who are unable to endure implant placement surgery and the extensive healing time that comes along with it. Implants are surgically placed directly into the jaw bone to form a fusion with the bone and act as the root of a tooth. The implant actually helps stimulate bone regeneration in the jaw bone where other dental prostheses can contribute to deterioration so an implant may be the healthier option as well as the more aesthetically pleasing route!
A titanium dental implant is constructed of three parts: the implant, abutment, and the implant restoration. The implant is a post that is screwed directly into the jaw bone with a small piece that protrudes through the gum tissue. The abutment is attached to the implant and is the connecting piece between the implant and the restoration. An implant can support one crown, to replace an individual tooth, a bridge, or even a full arch of teeth on one or both arches.
Implant Placement Procedure
Implant placement surgery requires the specialized skills of an oral surgeon or a periodontist to place the implant. Your dentist will do the restoration once the implant is fully healed. To begin, the specialist will evaluate your mouth and jaw structure to confirm that you are a candidate for a dental implant. Once they have determined that you are healthy enough for an implant, they will schedule you for surgery.
At the time of your surgery, the doctor will administer a local anesthetic via injection before making a small incision in the gum tissue. A small hole will then be drilled into your jaw bone for the implant. Once the implant is in place, your doctor will place a temporary abutment to protect the implant while it heals and integrates with your jaw bone. You will then be left to heal for up to six months before your dentist places your implant restoration. Depending on the number of teeth you need restored, your dental prosthesis may require more than one implant. A full denture can need between 4 and 8 implants on each arch.
Titanium Implants vs. Zirconium Implants
Titanium is a metal resistant to corrosion and has great biocompatibility which enables it to integrate with the jaw bone. Titanium is non-toxic and non-allergenic with a protective layer of titanium dioxide, making the implant resistant to chemical and water erosion. Zirconium is another material used to fabricate implants but is not as durable as titanium, making titanium the more often preferred material for most dentists. Titanium is more durable and resistant to fracture but may not be the best option for everyone.
Patients who suffer from severe metal allergies cannot have a titanium implant so zirconium can be used to ensure a successful implant. Zirconium has the same biocompatibility qualities as titanium so it is able to fuse with the bone structure and has a high success rate, though its longevity is not well studied because zirconium has not been used in the US for very long, only since about 2009. Your doctor will discuss your options and will decide which material will provide the best results for your individual case.