What are Dental Implants Made of?
Single dental implants are a widely used treatment for those suffering from tooth loss. But what exactly are they?
Most dental implants consist of a post, normally made of titanium, that is inserted directly into the jawbone. The implant provides a solid foundation onto which a false tooth can be attached. When there is not enough bone to support a regular implant, another type of implant can be used that consists of a custom-made device that sits atop of the bone.
An accidental discovery back in 1952 led to the wide use of titanium in medical implants. A doctor in Sweden found that when titanium is put into contact with bone and left undisturbed, the bone will attach to the surface of the titanium so that the titanium cannot be removed without cutting it away from the bone.
After more research with titanium, it was found that pure titanium was too soft to be reliable, so an alloy was developed to use with the titanium, making it stronger. Today, over 95% of dental implants are made of a titanium alloy.
Although patients generally do not have issues with titanium being placed in the body, some patients have had allergies or sensitivity to other metals that are used along with the titanium. For this reason, dental implants have been developed in recent years using zirconium instead of titanium. Considered ceramic instead of metallic, zirconium implants fuse with bone just as effectively as titanium. Zirconium offers another option for implants, avoiding some of the drawbacks of titanium. Unlike titanium, however, which has been in use for many decades, zirconium does not have the lengthy history to evaluate its success over time. For this reason, it is not yet known how well dental implants made of zirconium will hold up over time.
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