Titanium implants have been used in dentistry since the mid-1960s and continue to be a popular choice today. This is despite other materials like zirconia being introduced. So have you ever wondered why titanium implant-based restorations have stood the test of time? Let’s take a closer look.
Titanium Implants – Incredibly durable but lightweight
If you think about it for a second, dental implants need to be incredibly lightweight as they’re inserted directly into the jaw and worn for many years, but in addition, they need to be strong enough to support the bite force of the human jaw. That’s around 150lbs per square inch! The chosen material, therefore, needs to be both lightweight and durable. Titanium is both of these things and it’s probably no wonder that it’s used on high-tech vehicles including Formula 1 racing cars and the space shuttle no less.
To put this into perspective, titanium alloy has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of all known metals. While having a similar tensile strength to steel (that’s the resistance to it breaking down under tension) even at high temperatures, it’s around 45% lighter, making the alloy the perfect material for use in titanium implants.
Excellent anti-corrosive properties
Titanium implants by their very nature, need to be anti-corrosive and the corrosive resistant properties of titanium really are second to none. A substantially stable film of harmless inert oxide provides the implant with outstanding anti-corrosive properties far greater than stainless steel, to protect it against a wide range of aggressive substances.
Titanium is biocompatible and able to osseointegrate
Perhaps the most important factors surrounding titanium is that firstly it’s biocompatible. In other words, it’s anti-allergenic. Clearly, this is a highly important factor seeing as titanium implants are designed to be worn inside the body for several decades. But equally as crucial is the fact that titanium is one of only a handful of materials that can bring about osseointegration – Zirconia being another. Osseointegration is crucial to the success of the implant process and allows the bone tissue to fuse and form around the titanium implant over time. This is what creates a strong platform sufficient enough to take the bite force of a human being. Moreover, it also explains why, in addition to dental titanium implants, the material is also used as a replacement for knee joints, hip joints, and vertebrae.
Titanium is expensive, but it’s cheaper than Zirconia
While the good news is that titanium implants have some amazing properties, the bad news is that titanium doesn’t come cheap. At somewhere between $60 and $70 per 10 grams, it’s one of the most expensive non-precious metals. That said, the cost to manufacture zirconia is even higher than titanium. Typically, a cost of a single titanium implant to a dentist is around 60% less than a zirconia dental implant. Please note that this is for parts only and is not the cost to the patient. Therefore this doesn’t include the price of consultations, imaging equipment, other materials, surgery, and aftercare check-ups.
Titanium Implants have proven longevity
Finally, because titanium implants have been in use for over half a century, it’s been possible to measure how long implants have lasted in various patients. Did you know for instance that the very first dental implants were placed into a Swedish man in 1965, where they lasted right up until his death in 2006? So, we can say with some certainty that titanium dental implants have been proven to last forty years. On the contrary, because zirconia implants are not yet routinely used, they’re still under research. As a result, the proven longevity of them is a little sparse.
Hopefully, this has given you some good information on why titanium is used for dental implants and its advantages. Aside from being safe, lightweight, and incredibly durable, titanium implants are proven to work. So why change something that isn’t broken?
If you’re considering undergoing an implant-based restoration and would like to find out more about how titanium implants can restore your less than perfect smile, then contact our experienced team at Southern Smiles in Miranda. To book a consultation with Dr Kwee and the team call us on (02) 8503 9902 today.