Dental implants have undoubtedly become the most successful and popular dental prostheses for the replacement of missing teeth. Extensive research is still being carried to find novel implant biomaterials, that are not only more biocompatible, but also superior in physical and mechanical properties, to the conventionally used implant materials. This text provides a brief overview of biomaterials that are currently being employed for the fabrication of dental implants.
Biomaterials Used For the Fabrication of Dental Implants
Titanium has been shown to possess excellent biocompatibility and ossoeintegration potential, in addition to possessing adequate physical and mechanical properties. Although implants made with pure titanium were not found to be much successful, implants fabricated using Titanium alloys have shown positive improvements in the biocompatibility and ossoeintegration of the dental implants. The most commonly used material is Ti6Al4V, which is a α-β Titanium stabilizing alloy.
Previous attempts at using polymeric materials for the fabrication of dental implants were not successful, because of their poor mechanical and biological properties. However, currently biocompatible polymeric materials, such as the tooth colored restorative dental composites are being tested to be used as implant biomaterials. However, the inherent brittleness of the composites still prevents their frequent use as implant biomaterials.
Fiber Reinforced Composites
Recently, glass fibers have been incorporated into the dental composites, as a means of enhancing their mechanical properties, and promising results have been achieved in this regard. Keeping this view, research is being carried out to produce implants from dental composites that have been reinforced with different types and orientations of glass fibers.
Ceramics have been known for a long time for their excellent biocompatibility and esthetics. Various attempts have been made to use dental ceramics for the fabrication of dental implants. However, these efforts were not successful, due to inherent brittleness of the ceramics, which can lead to spontaneous fractures in dental implants.
Although zirconia is a type of a ceramic material, it possesses excellent mechanical properties, in addition to providing excellent esthetics and being highly biocompatible. Therefore, it has been successfully used for the fabrication of various dental appliances, including dental implants. Zirconia is also being employed in the fabrication of dental implants by using various modern techniques, such as 3D printing and Computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing (CAD CAM). Various types and allotropic forms of zirconia are being employed for the fabrication of dental implants, depending upon their use.
Titanium Zirconium Alloys
Another advancement in the search for a perfect implant biomaterial resulted in the use of alloys made from the combination metals, such as Zirconium and Titanium. These alloys have been shown to possess excellent biocompatibility and mechanical properties, in addition to encouraging osteoblastic proliferation and Ossoeintegration. Due to their superior mechanical properties, these implants can be subjected to a higher degree of bending and mechanical loading.
A Final Word
Despite ground breaking advances in the field of implant dentistry, the search for the discovery of an ideal implant biomaterial still continues. It is expected that in the future, more biomaterials will be discovered that will possess even better biological, physical and mechanical properties, compared to those that are being used nowadays.
Saini, Monika, et al. “Implant biomaterials: A comprehensive review.” World Journal of Clinical Cases: WJCC 3.1 (2015): 52.
Muddugangadhar, B. C., et al. “Biomaterials for dental implants: An overview.”International Journal of Oral Implantology and Clinical Research 2.1 (2011): 13-24.