What Are Dental Implants Made Of?

Millcreek_UT_Dentist
Medically Reviewed By
Jonathan G. Campbell, DDS, FAGD
One of the top rated Dentist in Salt Lake City, UT

Dental implants are a fantastic option for replacing missing teeth. But what exactly goes into making these tiny wonders? Rest assured, the materials used in dental implants are subject to rigorous international safety standards set by organizations like the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and ASTM International. These standards define what makes a material biocompatible, meaning it can coexist peacefully with your body without causing irritation or allergic reactions.

The two most common implant materials are titanium and zirconium oxide

However, other options like gold alloys, cobalt-based alloys, and even certain ceramics are sometimes used.  The good news is that all these materials have well-established safety profiles.

How Biocompatible Are Dental Implant Materials?

International consensus standards ensure dental implant safety through a process that includes biocompatibility testing. This testing verifies that bodily contact with the implant material won't cause any problems like irritation or allergic reactions.  This step is crucial in guaranteeing that the materials used in your dental implant system are safe and won't have any negative effects once implanted.

Breaking Down a Dental Implant

A dental implant system typically consists of two main parts: the implant itself and the crown. The implant acts as an artificial tooth root embedded in your jawbone. The crown, usually made of porcelain, is the visible part of the implant that resembles your natural tooth.

Dental Implant Abutment Materials

The abutment is a small connector piece that bridges the gap between the implant embedded in your jawbone and the crown. Abutment materials often mirror those used in the implant itself, commonly titanium or zirconium.  Some other options include cast gold, surgical-grade stainless steel, or polyether ether ketone (PEEK).  

A key factor in abutment material selection is its ability to create a strong seal around the gum tissue, preventing bacteria from entering and causing infection.

Dental Implant Crown Materials

As mentioned earlier, dental implant crowns are typically crafted from porcelain. Porcelain offers a natural-looking, tooth-like aesthetic that blends seamlessly with your existing teeth.  In some cases, depending on the location and function of the implant, a metal base might be used beneath the porcelain crown for added strength.

Diving Deeper: Materials Used in Dental Implants

Now that we've explored the general makeup of a dental implant, let's delve into the specifics of commonly used materials:

Titanium 

Advantages: The king of dental implant materials, titanium boasts excellent biocompatibility, high strength, and a proven track record for fusing with bone (osseointegration). It's also lightweight and relatively affordable.

Disadvantages: While generally well-tolerated, some people may have titanium allergies. Additionally, the gray color of titanium might show through certain types of porcelain crowns.

How Long Does it Last?: With proper care, titanium implants can last a lifetime.

Zirconia 

Advantages: Zirconia offers exceptional biocompatibility and aesthetics due to its natural-looking, white color. It's also very strong and resistant to chipping or breaking.

Disadvantages: Zirconia implants may be slightly more expensive than titanium ones.

How Long Does it Last?: Similar to titanium, zirconia implants have the potential to last a lifetime with proper care.

Other Materials 

Ceramic: While less common, some implants utilize ceramic materials. These offer excellent aesthetics but may not be quite as strong as titanium or zirconia.

Metal: Metal alloys like gold or cobalt-chromium are rarely used today due to advancements in other materials. However, they may still be a suitable option for specific situations.

What Factors Affect the Material Selection of a Dental Implant?

Biocompatibility: This is the most crucial factor. The implant material needs to coexist peacefully with your body tissues without causing irritation or allergic reactions. Titanium and zirconia are generally considered the most biocompatible options.

Patient Allergies: If you have a known allergy to titanium or other materials commonly used in implants, that will influence the material selection process.

Implant Location and Function:  The location of the implant in your jaw and the forces it will be subjected to during chewing can influence material choice. For example, areas that experience higher bite forces might benefit from the extra strength offered by titanium.

Aesthetics:  Zirconia's natural white color makes it a good choice for implants placed near the front of the mouth where aesthetics are a priority.

Cost:  There can be slight variations in cost between different implant materials, with zirconia typically being a bit more expensive than titanium.

Dentist's Expertise and Experience:  Different dentists may have varying levels of experience and preference when it comes to specific implant materials.

Legacy Dental blog is proudly run by our Salt Lake City dentists team; We share knowledge about general dental care and practices. Apart from running this blog, we offer various dental services such as general dentistry, emergency dentistry, and dental implants for the community in Salt Lake City, Utah

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