Often in restorative dentistry when a natural tooth needs to be surgically restored with a dental implant, some of the main concerns of the patient are if the implant will be as aesthetically pleasing as the original tooth and the safety of that implant. Being aware of the potential downside of metal dental implants is crucial to getting the most out of your next dentist visit.

The dental implant is more than a procedure of replacing the root structure of a tooth.  It is also an investment for the consumer to assure the tooth is replaced by the most natural and long lasting material that isn’t going to discolor or degrade over time.  This degradation or interaction of materials with the body is also a concern for long-term health issues.

Until recently, the material used for implants hasn’t changed much from the traditional metal titanium based implants. While titanium has been proven to be a valuable resource for dentists in the replacement of a damaged or missing tooth, the metal material still has its drawbacks in its use in restorative dentistry. These drawbacks have recently led to the development of newer materials that are non-metal and potentially safer for the patient in the long run, and have similar success rates to titanium implants.

One of these newer alternative materials that have been introduced into the field of restorative dentistry is a metal-free ceramic material called Zirconium Oxide (Zirconia).  Aesthetically, it has an advantage over traditional metal implants because of the natural white color it produces.  This white color virtually removes any chance of the gray shining through the gums, called “tattoo effect”, which can happen with titanium implants.    While titanium may not corrode easily, zirconia implants have been proven to be twice as durable as titanium, with a greater density and hardness, as well as, higher bending strength and mode of elasticity.

The benefits of Zirconium Dioxide as an alternative to metal implants go beyond aesthetics, it also provides benefits that titanium cannot simply stand up to. While the safety of metal implants is still debated between dentists, some patients who may have a history of allergic reactions toward metals – or feel uncomfortable with the concept of inserting alloy metal in their mouth – now have the option since zirconium dioxide is a non-metallic material that also adds to a more natural feel for the patient because of the insulation it can provide in the mouth.  Only the actual tooth is more natural.

While zirconia is a great material in general, there are several types of zirconia products in the dental market today and all of them are not made from the same zirconia.  The selection of the raw materials, as well as, quality control throughout and the cleaning and production processes play decisive roles in the manufacturing of the products.

The manufacturer of the Z-Look3 implants and components, which are generated from zirconia, is one of the leading manufacturers of ceramic products for dental medicine. In addition, the Swiss company has more than 20 years experience in the manufacturing of ceramic components for orthopedics, especially hip prostheses. The composition and the production processes for zirconia differ according to the requirements on the system components, i.e. whether it is an implant, a cutting instrument or another surgical instrument.

Zirconium Dioxide (Zirconia) based implants are currently sold by Z-Systems, under the product name of Z-Look3. It is important to check with your dentist to see if they offer this alternative.
Z-Systems Z-Look3 implants have been approved by several safety regulatory agencies across the globe, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For more information about metal-free implants, click here to visit the Z-Systems website.


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