Cosmetic dentistry provides people with a solution for teeth lost in accident or decay. A lost tooth can be restored with the use of dentures, dental bridges or dental implants. Dental implants are the most efficient and most long-term solution for lost teeth. You can get a dental implant by visiting the dentist at most twice. A dental implant is used as a replacement for the lost root of a tooth. The procedure of dental implants requires surgery. The implant is a metal post that is used to replace the root. The implant is grafted into the socket in which the lost tooth was earlier. The implant gradually fuses with the alveolar bone. This process is known as osseointegration. The bone grows around the metal post just like it would grow around the natural root covering and holds it in place. This provides an enduring and reliable base for an artificial crown or tooth that is attached to the metal post using a connector, also known as an abutment. Dental implants serve all the purposes that a natural tooth serves. A dental implant restores the strength of the jaw bone and prevents it from eroding away and affecting the adjacent teeth. A dental implant restores the look of your smile that was lost with the tooth. Tooth loss also changes your speech; a dental implant removes the speech impediment caused by a lost tooth or set of teeth. But if you’re concerned with developing an infection from the materials used in the implants, here is something you need to know about what implants are made of.
A Brief History of Dental Implants
Archeological surveys and researches have brought to light the proofs of dental implants being used in ancient civilizations to prevent the jaw bone structure and provide a replacement for lost teeth. Archaeologists have found human skull remains around the ruins of ancient Chinese civilization with implants grafted into their jaw bone that was made out of carved bamboo pegs. Remains found at the excavation sites of ancient Egypt had jawbones with implants made out of precious metals and some were also found with transplanted teeth and teeth made of ivory. Experimentation on materials to be used as implants began around the earlier 20th century. Out of these experiments, the most successful for the time period was the Greenfield implant system in 1913. The implant was an alloy of two metals – iridium and platinum – with gold used to construct the crown. The implant process showed a significant amount of osseointegration and lasted for a number of years. This was the closest reference of the dental implant materials we used today. Around the 1950s, studies were conducted in various universities on bone healing and regeneration. At this time, titanium was experimented upon as a metal suitable for implants. In 1965, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon placed a titanium implant into a human jaw bone and the bone grew around the titanium implant flawlessly. This was a significant milestone in the field of dental implants.
Materials Used for the Construction of Implants
As the history of dental implant suggests, a lot of materials have been used to replace the root of teeth and provide a base for the replacement of a lost tooth. There are three basic categories of dental implants.
- Root form implants – These are the most basic types of implants mostly used as a replacement of the tooth root. Eighteen different variants of this type of implant are available for grafting into the jaw bone and all of them have specific characteristics for supporting specific purposes
- Zygoma Implants – Zygoma refers to the zygomatic bone above the upper jaw that supports the structure of the cheekbone. This implant can be used as an anchor in the cheekbone to support full dentures in case of excessive tooth loss.
- Small diameter implants – These are implants with a thin and long structure. The abutments in these implants are forged to the metal post and are used as retention for dentures and as orthodontic anchorage.
All the implants mentioned above are constructed using titanium or alloys of titanium mixed with other metals such as aluminum and vanadium. For orthodontic purposes, titanium alloys consist of traces of tin, chromium, iron, and copper. These titanium alloys provide high tensile strength to the dental implants and gives them prevention from wear. In addition to such qualities, titanium is easily formable and can be welded efficiently. This mixture of alloys replaced the previously used stainless steel alloys as these have much more flexibility and facilitate better bone regrowth around the implant. Generally, any implants made out titanium alloys are molded into a screw with smooth surfacing or a ragged one to allow better hold of the regenerating bone. The dental implants used in the replacement of the root are made of a titanium of cold hardened work which supplies excellent rigidity for the bone to gain a better hold of the material. The abutments on which the artificial crowns are fixed are made of Grade 5 titanium which provides efficient corrosion resistance and bio-compatibility. These abutments provide excellent fracture resistance due to their ductility.
The artificial tooth attached to the abutment on the implant is known as a crown. Attaching crowns to the implants is the last step in the dental implant procedure. Crowns are made out of efficient biocompatible materials like ceramics or biocompatible metals fused with ceramics. Dental crowns are generally of 2 basic types.
Full Metal Crowns
Full metal crowns are entirely constructed out of metal alloys that are biocompatible. The most commonly used metal alloy used as crowns consist of gold as their base metal with other metals in small traces. The choice of metals to be mixed in the alloy depends on their biocompatibility and suitability to the patient. Metals mixed with gold to form alloys are copper, indium, platinum, and palladium. Some other alloys used in the construction of crowns are silver-palladium, silver-palladium-copper, nickel-chromium, and cobalt-chromium. Crowns fully constructed of titanium are also used.
Crowns are also constructed using ceramics. Ceramics are highly biocompatible. They generally have no side-effects and don’t cause any allergies. Ceramics used in the construction of crowns are silica, alumina, zirconia, and porcelain. Crowns made of ceramics are constructed with the use of CAD/CAM technology that mold them using casts and computerized grinding. Sometimes the ceramics can be also be fused with metals to give the crowns a more natural look if they are being applied to the front teeth.
If you have any queries regarding the build and compatibility of an implant, or if you have lost a tooth and are looking for a replacement, contact our dentists at 67th street dental and we’ll help you fix your tooth and prevent bone loss.