Titanium dental implants are a great technology, allowing us to replace your natural teeth with a new tooth that essentially looks and functions just as well as the one you lost. However, there are certain situations that the all metal dental implants are not the best solution.
In an effort to have dental implants that will work in more situations and help more people, researchers have proposed another type of implant. They are developing what they say is a new composite alternative for dental implants.
An Initial Study
Researchers at the Autonomous University of Baja California in Mexico have proposed several different formulations that may be able to meet the material, aesthetic, and cost limitations that might make them a viable alternative to current titanium metal implants. By combining ceramic material and plastics in a way similar to that used in many reconstructive dentistry materials, from tooth-colored fillings to some types of dental crowns and porcelain veneers, they have obtained a material that they believe can meet all the demands put on dental implants.
Simulating bite force, they showed that the material should be able to withstand chewing pressure. They also hope to further improve the integration of the material by incorporating vitamin D in it to stimulate bone growth.
By being white in color, the new dental implants will look more like the natural tooth root under thin or translucent gums (or in the case of receding gums). And because they’re not using expensive titanium, the new implants would be more affordable for many people who have difficulty paying for them.
A Softer Bite
One potential benefit of the composite material is that it can act more as a shock absorber than current dental implant designs. Our teeth aren’t actually integrated into our bones: they’re held in place by periodontal ligaments, which have rubber band-like properties. This allows our natural teeth to slightly cushion the tremendous forces when we bite and chew. Metal dental implants integrate directly into the bone and don’t have that cushioning effect, which can put stress on the bone in some cases.
The new composite implants would have some cushion built into them, which means that, like your natural teeth they could ease the bite forces and reduce stress on your jawbone.
These new polymer dental implants are currently in the early stages of development and testing. It will be a long time before they are available on the market, if they ever make it–many technologies don’t make it past these early stages.
However, at our office we are always carefully evaluating new dental technologies as they become developed so we know we will always be offering our patients the best quality reconstructive and cosmetic dentistry procedures available.