No doubt you’ve heard of dental implants otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this article. They’re one of the most versatile methods of teeth replacement used to bring back a person’s natural healthy-looking smile. It’s important to replace missing teeth because gaps in the smile can cause teeth to move and this, in turn, can result in serious issues with the bite as a result of crooked teeth.
But what are teeth implants made of? What do we even mean by tooth implant materials? Let’s take a closer look at the materials used in a modern-day dental implant and how they compare.
What are teeth implants made of?
The vast majority of dental implants used in Australia and the rest of the world are made from titanium. While a variety of materials including bamboo and seashells were used in ancient times to create crude teeth implants, it was in 1952 that a Swedish scientist, Dr Per-Ingar Branemark, accidentally discovered that titanium fused with bone when he was researching the bone healing properties in a rabbit.
Titanium dental implants are invented
This discovery took Branemark’s research into another direction as he realised that if the body could tolerate the presence of titanium, the metal could be used to secure a false tooth into the jawbone, and the rest, as they say, is history …
Titanium implants are usually made from an alloy that contains 90% titanium. The remaining metals such as vanadium and aluminium, are used to give additional strength to the implant.
These metals can vary from one brand of dental implant to another but the main difference lies in the shape of the threads on the implant post or the shape at the top where the crown is attached.
The surfaces of the dental implants are roughened on a minuscule level to help them adhere to the bone effectively. This is usually done during manufacturing by dipping them into a liquid that etches the surface. After this, they’re cleaned and sterilised.
So, now you know how titanium dental implants came into being, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of this metal.
Benefits of titanium
As well as fusing effectively with bone in a process known as osseointegration, titanium is non-toxic and non-allergenic and won’t harm the body. Titanium implants that successfully integrate have already been proven to remain in place for 40 years.
In rare cases where titanium dental implants have been rejected by the body, it’s thought that allergy to the lesser-used metals may have been the cause. That said, around 0.6% of people have a titanium allergy which may also account for unexplained implant failure.
Other benefits of titanium are:
- Strength – Titanium is light-weight but incredibly strong. It’s lighter than steel and also returns to its original shape once it has been bent.
- Minimal corrosion – Titanium is an ideal material for a dental implant because it belongs to a group of alloys that can resist corrosion. A protective layer of titanium dioxide makes it hard for chemicals and water to enter.
Besides the above benefits, the cost is reasonable, which is why on these terms, titanium remains one of the best dental implant materials of all time.
As you can see, titanium is an incredible material to use for dental implants but it’s not the only material out there.
Ceramic dental implants
Ceramic was first used during the 1960s and 1970s in the manufacture of dental implants but since they had a high failure rate they quickly disappeared off the scene. That is until a new type of ceramic material known as Zirconium Dioxide were used – you may have heard of its more common name, Zirconia.
Compared to titanium, zirconia is a relatively new invention and has a promising future as a dental implant material. Although less prevalent than titanium implants, many dentists provide zirconium alloy implants as well as metal-free zirconia ceramic implants.
Benefits of zirconia
Zirconium alloy implants are comprised of 15% zirconium and 85% titanium. These are said to be stronger than pure titanium implants and even more bio-compatible.
Those people who want to avoid metal altogether may be interested in zirconia ceramic implants. These advanced dental implants are made from the same sort of ceramic that is recommended for extremely strong dental crowns and are also stronger with a higher biocompatibility than titanium.
Moreover, since zirconia implants are white as opposed to the silver of titanium they can give a more natural appearance for an individual who has thin gums. In other words, there is no grey showing through which might give away the fact that you have dental implants.
Hopefully, this has answered your question “what are teeth implants made of. As to what is the best material for dental implants, this may well be down to personal preference, particularly if having got rid of metal fillings from your mouth or you are against having metal implants in your mouth. That said, titanium implants have a proven track record and significantly more research behind them.
If you’re interested in having dental implants then why not schedule an implant consultation with DDSS/DDII. Currently, we’re offering a special COVID-19 Stimulus Package which includes a free consultation, reduction in the cost of our digital implants, and payment options to help spread the cost. Why not get in touch today.