Understanding The Use Of Zirconia Dental Implant Abutments

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If you want a dental implant, then you may be surprised that you have quite a few options available to you when it comes to the implant device itself. While implant roots almost always need to be constructed out of titanium, this is not always true for the small device that twists onto the top of the root. The device is called the abutment, and it connects the artificial tooth to the implant root. Some abutments are made out of a tooth colored material called zirconia. Keep reading to learn what zirconia is and why it may be used on top of a titanium implant root.

What Is Zirconia?

Zirconia or zirconium dioxide is a metal material that has a white hue instead of a shiny metallic tone. The material is used instead of steel or titanium when certain types of dental frameworks and prosthetics are constructed. For example, the material is often used when bridges are added to the mouth or when a porcelain crown needs added strength. Zirconia is the crystalline form of zirconium. You may be most familiar with the material in its cubic form as cubic zirconia. This is the material used to create simulated diamonds.

The type of zirconia used to create dental prosthetics and dental implant abutments is the stabilized form of the material and it appears, feels, and acts more like ceramic than simulated diamond. However, zirconia is much harder than ceramic. This is one reason why it is used to create things like ceramic knives and prosthetics.

Not only is zirconia strong enough for dental work, but it is biocompatible like titanium. This means that any all prosthetics will be accepted by the body as a part of the body. Specifically, there will be no issues with the immune system attacking the device. 

Why Is Zirconia Used In Dental Implantation?

Zirconia is often used for dental implant abutments based on its natural color and appearance. Basically, the material is indistinguishable from real dental enamel. While it may make sense to use zirconia for exposed devices like bridges, it may not seem important to use the material for a part of the implant that will be covered by an artificial tooth. However, this is a concern if you do not want the abutment to show through the crown.

Dental crowns vary in thickness a great deal. While some crowns are two millimeters thick on the edge and one and a half millimeters thick along the biting surface, some crowns are only about one-half a millimeter thick. These thinner crowns include ones that are added to the front of the mouth to replace the incisors and canines. Thinner crowns can be somewhat translucent and show the abutment through the crown itself. This can be aesthetically unappealing if the abutment is a titanium metal variety. In some cases, this can make it appear as though there is a cavity in the tooth that has not been treated. This type of issue does not occur when a zirconia abutment is utilized though.

Sometimes zirconia abutments are also secured on top of dental implants when the tissues surrounding the device are thin. When this happens, the top of the implant may show through the gum tissues. To keep the tissue from appearing dark, the light colored zirconia implant is added to the dental root. 

Zirconia dental implant abutments are used to make your implant look more natural and appealing. If you are working with a dentist like John P Poovey DMD PC to plan an implant, then speak to him about the option of having a zirconia abutment added to the device instead of a titanium abutment.