Are Ceramic Dental Implants Radioactive?
Almost every element in nature has some measure of radioactivity associated with it including seemingly innocuous elements such as water, milk, vegetables and meat. So it is not surprising to learn that many materials used in dentistry today have some level of radioactivity including Zirconium based implants. By looking at the chart below you can see that Zirconium can contain a certain number of radioactive isotopes. In worst case scenarios, Radioactive Isotopes are known to increase the chance of various oral cancers, so knowing what level of radioactivity is involved is important for anyone who may be considering dental implant surgery.
“In the case of Zirconium, this natural radioactivity is related to natural exposure with other elements,” says James B. Francis, President Z-Systems USA, Inc. “The manufacturer of our raw material is the same manufacturer who has been making the Zirconia hip ball replacements for the past 30 years. Its process of removing the natural contamination is state of the art and results in the highest purity of raw Zirconia available.”
The Physics of Dental Ceramics (Zirconium) compared to other common elements
|Element||Atomic # (Z)||Atomic Wt (A)||Density (p)||Radiation Len. (cm)||Density*RL (g/cm2)|
- The atomic number is the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom.
- The atomic mass is the mass (weight) of all the components of the atom but is dominated by the nucleus composed of protons and neutrons. It is the mass of the atom at rest, measured in atomic mass units.
- Electron density: the number of electrons per unit volume; volume charge density = electric charge per unit volume of a medium or body measured in coulombs per meter cubed; surface charge density = electric charge per unit area of a surface measured in coulombs per meter squared.
- In physics, the radiation length is a characteristic of a material, related to the energy loss of high energy, electromagnetic-interacting particles with it. The mean distance traveled by a relativistic particle in a given medium before its energy is reduced by a factor e by its interaction with matter.
- Relative density: The density of a substance divided by the density of water (formerly called specific gravity) which has a maximum density of 1000kg m-3; therefore the relative density of any substance is one-thousandth of its density.
Zirconia hip ball replacements weigh approximately 100g, which translates to a yearly natural radiological output of 1 mSv per year. Z-Systems Z-Look3 implants weigh approximately 1g, which translates to a yearly natural radiological output of 0.01 mSv per year. To put that in perspective, a look at the comparison levels of other items which have radioactive output might be helpful:
- 2.4 mSv/year the amount equal to the typical background radiation experienced by everyone (average 1.5 mSv in Australia, 3 mSv in North America).
- Up to 5.0 mSv/year represents the typical incremental dose for aircrew in middle latitudes.
- 9.0 mSv/year equals the amount of exposure experienced by airline crew flying the New York – Tokyo polar route.
- 20 mSv/per year is the current limit (averaged) for nuclear industry employees and uranium miners.
- 50 mSv/per year is the former routine limit for nuclear industry employees. It is also the dose rate which arises from natural background levels in several places in Iran, India and Europe.
Uranium = White Teeth
Oral implants are produced from a highly purified form of Zirconia material which contains extremely low radiation emission levels, although all manufacturers of Zirconia dental implants are required to provide a declaration of radioactivity for their Zirconium based dental products. The use of radioactive compounds in dental ceramics has to do with cosmetic results and the need to copy the luster of natural teeth in an implant. Human dentine is naturally very bright in color and in an attempt to duplicate this characteristic, uranium is added to both artificial teeth and ceramic powders for the manufacturing of crowns and bridges, a practice that originated as far back as the 1920’s. A patent just a few decade later presented by inventors Lee and Müller describes a mixture of cerium and uranium as,”… creating an improved shade of white”.
Zirconium compounds are refined for dental use from naturally occurring ores, notably zircon, which usually contain trace amounts of other elements depending upon the source of the original ore, including trace amounts of radioactive nuclides. In 1992 ceramic radioactivity was addressed by Anusavice KJ in an article titled ‘Degradability of dental ceramics’ which observed in part that … “The degradation of dental ceramics generally occurs because of mechanical forces or chemical attack. The possible physiological side-effects of ceramics are their tendency to abrade opposing dental structures, the emission of radiation from radioactive components…”
Further research pointed out that the radiation emitted by a dental ceramic powder (3 mol% Y2O3-ZrO2) was the same as alumina powder (note: aluminum is an element, and alumina is an aluminum containing compound), both of which were several orders of magnitude less than that typically measured for water, milk, vegetables and meat (based on European standards). The radioactivity of zirconia Y-TZP artificial hip joints has been shown to be similar to that of alumina and cobalt-chrome. The radiation dose of each material was recorded at that time to be well below European radiation limits recommended for the human body including local internal exposure of organs and tissue. It was documented to be no more than the ambient radiation of environmental surroundings.
In a similar study, radiation levels of several commercially available zirconia powders commonly used to manufacture implants in Australia (Nilcra Ceramics, Melbourne) were tested and documented as ‘minimal and well below acceptable limits’. The Radiation Health Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia now deems that magnesia partially stabilized zirconia artificial hip joints made from these powders pose “very little hazard to surrounding tissue”.
In the United States, the primary raw material used in the manufacture of zirconium dioxide is zircon silicate (ZrSiO4), which is rendered into a higher form of purity (ZrO2) when melted with coke and lime. Since extremely pure initial products must be used for high-performance ceramics such as those used in dental implants and special synthesis methods have been developed specifically for this product; a process that works to create the strongest, most durable dental ceramic product available today.
Where does the radiation go?
Research has shown that all radiation is absorbed withinto the bulk of the material in such extremely dense ceramics. For example, in the case of artificial hip joints, any radiation from the femoral head is absorbed primarily by the surrounding artificial materials.
Continuous testing and research from the medical implant field demonstrates that the actual radiation risk of zirconia ceramics is negligible, certainly no more than that of alumina – and consistent with the level of radiation found to occur naturally in healthy environments.
The Benefits of Zirconium Implants and Dental Ceramics
Overall, Zirconium implants are highly resistant to corrosion and superior to other implant materials such as titanium and have a higher level of human biocompatibility and superior aesthetic value for patients. They are ideal for anyone whose immune systems are not compatible with titanium implants and for patients who may have metal allergies. Zirconium implants are far more durable with less risk of breakage. They are also capable of holding up to the extreme changes in temperature found in the human mouth
Furthermore, being bright white in color zirconium implants have a definite advantage or aesthetic value over titanium dental implants by eliminating the possibility of the unsightly grey appearance that titanium exhibits.
World Nuclear Association (The World Nuclear Association http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf05.html):
Radiation Length Package (data taken from Particle Data Booklet) by R.J.Apsimon
Is There A Renewed Trend of Radioactive Compounds In Dental Materials? — Ulf Bengtsson, 2000-01-01
Abstracted from Ph.D Thesis “Application of Transformation-Toughened Zirconia Ceramics as Bioceramics”, University of New South Wales, Australia, 1995.
Anusavice KJ. Degradability of dental ceramics. Adv Dent Res 1992 Sep 6:82-9
I had a tooth break off above the gum line I waited 2 weeks to go to the dentist so they gave me a root canel and porcalan tooth with a metal rod in the center it ticked every step I took for 10 years then stopped they the root would probably rot out and I would have toget bridge work but has lasted 30years now we live by a big nuke plant in Canada and do weird experiments around here I hope I am not one I am a star seed indglo a I think may have created alot of tech for this world call me collect and we will talk I think I am the atomic Rooster I also went California and experimental drugs and am one the universe 5198324725
Hi, I had a porcelain embossed onto metal 3M bridge installed twenty five years ago and it had been fine , I.e no after taste or any such as the Zirconia ,this later is on the upper 25 and empty socket at 26.
I had felt weird with the Zirconia, its colder, tastes from it bitter or something, now , I don’t know if its these cement used to adhere it to the tooth 25 or it’s the actual zirconia?
Upon fetulance , it smell just like the Zirconia in my mouth, plus I feel that I am constantly constipated.
I have to either consume the probiotics and or Milk Thistle to help me to get through this.
I think that it depletes the stomach acids, which break down foods for assimilation.
I am pretty sure that its the Zirconia, its an oxide from the actual Zirconium from which its made right?
But , having had Zirconia in my mouth forthe ZR the last 5 months since January 2020, I am convinced about its smell and or general taste altering effects on foods, almost all kinds food tastes as if marinated with Zirconia.
For the past couple of months, something have changed as a result, my head seems as if it have started to sing low frequency humming I.e between 20Hz~ 80Hz, its running in my head, can’t seem to go away, no matter what?¿
I have a feeling that Zirconia in the mouth with the environment, changes its characteristics to emitting much higher Radioactivity levels than those figures in the chart shows, I am pretty sure , only I don’t have a tester to verify the exact number.
Still wondering why the hum?
Is There A Renewed Trend of Radioactive Compounds In Dental Materials? — Ulf Bengtsson, 2000-01-01
I need it as a doc or PDF . I mean need original studie
I am looking into the safest, most natural dental implants out there. I came across zirconium, but was bummed to find out they have to stabilize it with yet other questionable compounds. Apparently yttrium can be very dangerous… do you have any thoughts on that aspect?
No response about radioactive yttrium yet Danielle?
Did you have any success with anything more natural or safer?
I have two zirconia crowns recently placed in my mouth and have been experiencing a bitter taste coming from them. No one seems to know what is causing this problem although I suspect it is the Zirconia and its interaction with fluids in the mouth.
I dont agree with put metal in the body at all should be all changed to plastic – the tooth is a crystal why can’t they make the same material like crystal
There are many porcelains out there that have very similar characteristics as enamel. But since the tooth contains both dentin and enamel, should we replace the missing tooth structure with all porcelain?
Sometimes it is better to overengineer it and just use the strongest most biocompatible material possible.
The egyptian Pharao’s had dental work done even bridges but the part replacing the tooth was usually a crystal, the same goes for the maya’s but at that time they didn’t have a depopulation agenda. i have a special dentist who uses materials as natural as possible but when i looked into it they all have questionable poisonous material.They tell us that it’s within the limits but how do we know that or better said, at what point can we measure that. Modern man is subjected to so many poisonous materials and lots of overexposure to EMF-Fields, who can then guarantee you where the tipping point lies. Everything is tested on it’s own but never the cumulative aspect of what we have to endure, these people who conspire against life itself and make it a buildingblock/lego nightmarish horror castle are evil itself and most people are in a state of naieve belief in these people. Everything, yes even the least susceptable things, Dracupharma has his hands on… is to better kill you!
I read your comments and quite like the way you have put,
The common error is that while Zirconium per se is a metal, Zirconia, being an oxide of Zirconium, possesses properties much closer to a ceramic.
I find it interesting that most people refer to Zirconia as a “ceramic”. while it is white, its in the same column as Titanium in the periodic table. making them both metal.
It does share one property with ceramic. its brittleness. i have seen too many zirconium bridges and implant abutments fracture. I fear that this will become a big problem once more zirconium implants are placed.
Your right about zirconia fractures could become a problem. if the restorations are not designed properly for strength and porcelain fused to zirconia frameworks are not designed properly to support porcelain as with traditional porcelain fused to metal or to lithium disilicate they too will fracture. I am having great results with full zirconia and porcelain fused to zirconia, better than ever had with pfm,s, although i had way better than average success with pfm,s in my 30 plus years in the industry. Sincerely, Gary Wright CDT. and owner and head tech @ G&B Porcelain,Inc. Waleska, Ga.
Todays Ziconium Implants are made from a purified form of zirconium Oxide (ZrO2) mixed with Yttrium and Hafnium to stabilize the crystal structure and improve its properties. This material is extremely strong and resistant to fracture. The likelihood of a Zirconium Implant fracturing in the mouth is extremely small and would take a tremendous amount of mechanical pressure. Zirconium Implants were tested by hammering them in many different directions with a 10 lb metal club hammer against stone and pounding them through wood (like a nail), and none of them fractured.