Are Zirconia Dental Implants more Biocompatible than Titanium?
Both zirconia and titanium are very biocompatible dental implant materials, but zirconia is more biocompatible. Titanium is a metal. Metal is a material that corrodes in biological systems. Titanium has a very slow rate of corrosion, but nonetheless it still does corrode. When a metal corrodes it breaks down and dematerializes. Current research suggests, small titanium implant particles leak out during corrosion in biological systems. Titanium particles are known to leak out into tissues surrounding dental implants and bind to proteins. The titanium particles can cause an immunological response by causing normal proteins to become immunologically reactive. Hence the proposed hypersensitivity mechanism of implant failure. Zirconia implants do not corrode and therefore cannot cause the same hypersensitivity reaction as titanium implants.
All the above being said, titanium is a very biocompatible material and there are very few cases of known titanium implant failure because of biocompatiblilty issues.
Is Biocompatibility a “sales pitch” for Zirconia Implants?
Many people in the titanium community, think the “biocompatibility” issue is a bit overstated by zirconia implant companies – a good sales pitch of sorts and that for all practical purposes metal allergies rarely if ever exist and present no significant risk to titanium implant failure. No doubt that millions of titanium implants have been placed and very few known issues with biocompatibility have been reported or seen. However, implants do fail and it is difficult to determine the exact cause of the failure and how big of a problem metal implant allergies will be in the future.
Titanium Implants Should be avoided in cases of metal allergies
If a person has a lot of sensitivities and especially allergies to metals, titanium implants should be avoided if at all possible. Allergies can be developed at any time, so if someone has a tendency towards sensitivities, zirconia is a safer implant material.
Titanium in some cases such as severe bruxism, is a more durable material for short 2nd molar teeth. Titanium is a more practical and predictable implant for full mouth dental implants solutions such as snap on dentures and all on 4 implant options.