Another generational change has taken place in dentistry – we now live in an age of precious metals that can make your smile both perfect and natural-looking at the same time. But the more complicated the technology, the harder it is to discern what exactly is best for you. Top rank professional can help you with this, and Doctor Michael Meier, one of Switzerland’s leading dentists, knows how to make the right choice.
– Doctor Meier, implants are quite common now, but there is one question: with what material is it best to construct them?
– Esthetic requirements for dental appearance are increasing all the time. We want to obtain a beautiful white smile but we want it to be natural as well, and we
want implants to look just like our own teeth. And of course, we want to keep our teeth healthy for as long as possible. Dentistry is focused on best meeting all these requirements, and this is why new materials are constantly being developed. In the beginning, titanium implants seemed an ideal alternative to one’s own teeth. However, everything is relative.
– Were any problems detected with them?
– Let’s say that there were problems which became obvious after the technology became widespread. At present, integration with the bone is not a major problem. If all is perfectly planned, we have a success rate of 97 percent with implants. More often, we see an inflammation, so-called periimplantitis, around the gum. It might be the patient’s fault if he employs the wrong cleaning technique, as the spaces between the implants have to be cleaned very well every day. There is also an inf lammation that we do not yet know the reason for. It might be because of a reaction to titanium. Hence, we have a Swiss company which has developed a ceramic implant. Less inflammation is detected here, as it’s a more biological material for the body. Ceramic implants have a different surface, so less bacteria can attach themselves to the implant. Also, the colour is white and not grey. Usually dentists warn their patients that an implant is an excellent alternative to a tooth but cannot replace it 100 percent. It requires special treatment: one should correctly clean the space between the teeth with dental floss, otherwise the risk of inflammatory disorders and systematic diseases starts to increase, and this can lead to loss of the implant. And, of course, the questions of adaptability and allergy still remain.
– But implants are produced from bioinert materials which trigger no inflammation?
– Yes. Allergic reactions to dental implants are quite rare nowadays. Materials such as gold and titanium are applied in modern dentistry (chrome and nickel are the most likely to trigger allergic reactions, but sometimes they can still be found in dental alloys). Nevertheless, a certain percent of the population has a genetic intolerance of metal implants, as a result of which severe inflammations take place. There is intolerance of titanium as well. An allergic reaction is manifested in the form of burning and itching in the gums near the implant and there can also be bleeding, a metallic taste in the mouth, and swelling of the tongue close to the implant. In this case, with these indicators, we are facing an allergic reaction.
– But still, an allergy-safe material has finally been found, has it not?
– Yes, it has – zirconium dioxide (ZrO2). It is absolutely compatible, and this is one of its main advantages. The human body does not perceive it as a foreign body. That is why zirconium dioxide implants have excellent adaptation rates and integrate with the bone and gums. The r isk of complications is minima l. Such implants can be installed even in people with a strong allergy to metal. The wonderf ul features of this material allow maximal insertion of the implant and adjusting of the crown to the gum, which almost entirely excludes the possibility of complications and inflammations. Special technology used in the installation makes the structure very strong and reliable.
– How long is the potential service life of a zirconium implant?
– This we do not know, but it could, like titanium, be a lifetime. The service life may be extended by means of observation of personal hygiene.
– So the future is in ceramic implants?
– The future is in zirconium and similar materials, which will render less inf la mmation and are more biocompatible.
He graduated from the Medical and Dental Faculty of Zurich University in 1998 and 2002. He worked in the General Internal Medicine Department in the Zug Canton Hospital and was a research member of the Forensic Medicine Institute of Zurich University for about three years. He worked as an Assistant Doctor in
the Dental Center of Zurich from 2002 to 2006. Since 2006 he has been engaged in private dental practice. In 2011 he became one of the founders and incorporators of the Pediatry Center Kinder-Permanence by Swiss Medi Kids Zürich AG. He is also the owner of the Dental Clinic Perfect Smile Ragaz GmbH of the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz medical center.