Titanium vs. Zirconium

Dental implants are made of three parts: an artificial tooth root or dental implant, and a crown, which is connected to the implant by an abutment. The abutment and the dental implant are always made of a titanium alloy, as this is what the bones accept and can integrate, but the crown can be made of two different materials. The outer layer of a dental crown is always porcelain, but the inner structure can be either zirconium or titanium. Although the difference in price is readily apparent, the difference between these two materials is not. Allow us to shed some light on the mystery of zirconium vs. titanium.

Titanium and zirconium dental crowns

The internal structure of the crown is basically like the beams of a house: it is a skeleton of a dental crown, and the porcelain layers are fused to the outside of this titanium or zirconium crown internal structure. The difference is aesthetic: the titanium crown structure shows up as dark lines against the white porcelain layer if the sun shines on it, while the zirconium structure plays with the light, and is semi-translucent, just like real teeth.

Why are zirconium dental crowns so much more expensive?

Zirconium dental crowns are much more expensive because zirconium is a very rare material, which needs to be made from a mineral, while titanium is a metal that is easier to mine, but is also quite rare. The difference is that it does not need to be synthesised, simply made into an alloy. The fact that zirconium can do all of the things that titanium can, is hypoallergenic and is more aesthetically pleasing means that it is bound to cost more and become a luxury product. Usually, patients are advised to replace the teeth within the smile zone (the front 6 that are visible when you smile) with zirconium dental crowns, as these will be visible frequently, while back teeth can be replaced with titanium crowns, as these will rarely be visible, and even if they are, they will not have a strong light shone on them usually. This is a very thrifty solution that gives the patient the luxury of zirconium crowns with the pragmatic nature of titanium crowns.      

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