As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog, zirconia has become a very reliable and aesthetically pleasing option when looking at dental implants. While titanium is still very popular, zirconia is rising in popularity due to its higher mechanical strength in comparison to other metals.

Saurabh Gupta, MDS, and Sammy Noumbissi, DDS, MS wrote a brief article on the evolution of zirconia in dental practice and why its worth using in the future.

Zirconia’s superior properties include its high compressive strength, higher tensile strength, and modulus of elasticity compared to any titanium alloy or commercial-grade pure titanium. Tetragonal zirconia polycrystal, specifically around 3-mol% yttrium oxide (yttria)-stabilized zirconia, is mainly the selected ceramic for dental implants. Zirconia’s white, opaque color with low affinity for bacterial plaque and ultra-biocompatibility make it a material of interest in the biomedical industry.1

Biomechanically Stable Processing

Today, hot isostatic pressing (HIP) subjects monocline zirconia to high pressure, which causes the condensation of particles and results in a tetragonal crystalline lattice structure, where the particles seem to overlap. This significant innovation prevents the propagation of cracks.

With HIP-processed zirconia, any microcrack that develops is quickly stabilized since the tetragonal particles expand into the monocline structure to fill the gap formed. This self-repairing characteristic is also known as the airbag effect.1,2

The modifications of polycrystal “HIP zirconia” material even prevent the material from aging. These key features eliminate breakage.3 Several experiments have evaluated the biomechanical properties of zirconium implants with significant success.4

Soft-Tissue Integration and Reduced Peri-Implantitis

From a biological perspective, zirconia provides very valuable characteristics. It has a very low affinity for bacterial plaque, a negligible inflammatory infiltrate, and remarkable soft-tissue integration. All of these characteristics can diminish the risk of peri-implant diseases.

It is suggested that the bacterial biofilm accumulates less on zirconia compared to titanium. Hence, it may be assumed that peri-implant soft tissues around zirconia implants will be at lower risk of infection and inflammation. Every implant material has a definite surface free energy. It is observed that zirconia abutments have low surface free energy and low surface wettability, reducing adhesion of bacteria.

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