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What Are Dental Implants Made Of?

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What Are Dental Implants Made Of?

When we’re talking about a dental implant procedure, we’re thinking about this globally from a dentist standpoint. The number one thing is, is the patient a candidate for a dental implant? It starts with the health circumstances surrounding the patient: the bone condition, even the gum tissue condition, whether or not there’s an existence of an infection there from a previous tooth, whether or not the tooth is actually there, and we need to fill in that bone. So, making decisions about dental implants really starts from what does the patient look like? What’s that composite image of the patient? What’s everything surrounding that patient themselves? Is it a good decision to go with a dental implant, or is there an alternative outside of the field of dental implants.  

Then we’re talking about what parts, pieces, and components should be used to create this tooth for the patient. Because the patient is concerned about the tooth, right? What is my tooth going to look like? From a dentist standpoint, there’s a lot that goes into that: picking the right post so the dental implant body- that would be the first selection. Is that going to be a one-piece implant or a two-piece implant? Meaning, is the abutment going to be connected? These are the parts of the implant, the implant body, which patients don’t see. The implant abutment, which extends from the implant body through the gum tissue, and represents an anchorage portion of the implant. And then the tooth, of course, that goes on top, making sure that we can make that tooth look natural, be functional and be solid and stable for our patient. So, when we’re saying or asking the question, “what is a dental implant made of”? There’s so many different components.  

Dental implants are made of various types, usually some sort of titanium. Sometimes titanium anodizes and it can give it a gold, or even really a rainbow, of colors, believe it or not. So, that’s used for identification, for dentists, really. We can anodize surfaces. Colorize them. Also, it can make it look more natural. Titanium has more of a grayish or silver look to it. If we want something that has a little bit more warmth to it, we can anodize titanium in more of like a white or a yellowish color. That yellow really brings warmth to the materials that we place on top of that.  

For example, we’d have a titanium implant underneath the gum line and a titanium abutment that is anodized yellow or golden, we’ll say. That’s attached to the implant, sometimes screwed into the implant. On top of that piece is the beautiful porcelain crown.  

When we’re talking about what materials are available for an abutment, we’ve got this anodized titanium, we’ve got non anodized titanium. We’ve got some type of zirconium or a ceramic abutment piece that can be used again, allowing us to have a more tooth like coloration positives and negatives for choosing those various attachments, those abutments. Then we have the crown, the tooth on top. So, we have so many different types of ceramics that we can choose from. Even metal ceramics are still used today, more sparingly, I would say, than in previous decades. A traditional dental crown was either made of gold on the inside or a thin coping, we would say, of metal. Then, a technician that was really an artist, would hand layer porcelain powder on top of this metal coping. The metal gave this structure, and the porcelain would give it the beauty, the shape, and the form.  

Nowadays, again, with digital technologies, we’re designing teeth, the whole tooth on the computer and then sending that in a 3D file, to various output devices. We can 3D print those. Mostly, that’s used for short term solutions. When somebody needs a tooth, they want a tooth right away. We can 3D print a temporary tooth out of resins. We have manufacturing in dental laboratories now where they’re milling these porcelain teeth out of solid blocks of ceramic, mostly zirconium ceramics. There’s also a technique where we can press ceramics. So, we make a ceramic molten and press it into a form that is custom for the patient. It’s custom made, so some are more labor intensive than others. Some leverage more technology than others.  

From the gamut here of what is a dental implant made of, when we get to the tooth portion, we’re basically saying the same thing as what is a dental crown made of? So, dental implant crowns. And dental crowns can be made of virtually the same materials. And it’s up to the dentist and the patient, mostly the dentist, to select the materials that will achieve the results that the patient is looking for that the dentist believes will be a good long-term fix for the patient. 

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