Purpose: Titanium based implant systems, though considered as the gold standard for rehabilitation of edentulous spaces, have been criticized for many inherent flaws. The onset of hypersensitivity reactions, biocompatibility issues, and an unaesthetic gray hue have raised demands for more aesthetic and tissue compatible material for implant fabrication. Zirconia is emerging as a promising alternative to conventional Titanium based implant systems for oral rehabilitation with superior biological, aesthetics, mechanical and optical properties. This review aims to critically analyze and review the credibility of Zirconia implants as an alternative to Titanium for prosthetic rehabilitation.
Study selection: The literature search for articles written in the English language in PubMed and Cochrane Library database from 1990 till December 2016. The following search terms were utilized for data search: "zirconia implants" NOT "abutment", "zirconia implants" AND "titanium implants" AND "osseointegration", "zirconia implants" AND compatibility.
Results: The number of potential relevant articles selected were 47. All the human in vivo clinical, in vitro, animals' studies were included and discussed under the following subheadings: Chemical composition, structure and phases; Physical and mechanical properties; Aesthetic and optical properties; Osseointegration and biocompatibility; Surface modifications; Peri-implant tissue compatibility, inflammation and soft tissue healing, and long-term prognosis.
Conclusions: Zirconia implants are a promising alternative to titanium with a superior soft-tissue response, biocompatibility, and aesthetics with comparable osseointegration. However, further long-term longitudinal and comparative clinical trials are required to validate zirconia as a viable alternative to the titanium implant.
Keywords: Implant materials; Oral implants; Osseointegration; Titanium; Zirconia.
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