Many Murray 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 traditional 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 concerned that mercury is toxic or harmful 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 patients 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 implants?”
Some implant dentists offer Zirconia implants.
What Are Zirconia Implants?
Zirconia tooth implants are routinely advertised as a non-metal alternative to titanium posts.
Is Zirconia Actually Metal-Free?
As it turns out, the answer to this question is complex. 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 dental 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 strong as titanium teeth implants.
- Some dental implant dentists don’t provide 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 change of fracture–especially narrow diameter Zirconia 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. Blackwood.
Don’t count on marketing hype to make important decisions about tooth implants. Consult a doctor who has been placing tooth implants successfully since 2005 and has thousands of satisfied patients.