No cracking under pressure
Patients who need dental implants but have thin gums or are allergic to titanium may benefit from a new, stronger ceramic dental implant approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January.
While there have been other ceramic dental implants in the past, these did not always hold up to the bite pressure needed for normal use, said Stefanie Seitz, D.D.S., assistant professor of comprehensive dentistry. The new ceramic implants, now available through UT Dentistry, have shown comparable strength to titanium, the standard material used for dental implants.
“This is somewhat of a niche product for patients who have special circumstances,” Dr. Seitz said. “By their nature, titanium implants can compromise aesthetics by showing gray through the gum tissue. This ceramic implant is ivory in color, thereby mimicking the natural color of teeth, making it more aesthetic. The ceramic implants are also helpful for patients who are allergic to titanium or, for whatever reason, do not want to have metal in
New imaging technology is used to plan and place both ceramic and titanium implants in a way that results in precise placement, less pain for the patient and faster healing.
The technology calls for dentists to perform a digital scan of the teeth instead of using a thick, pasty dental material to get an impression of the mouth. The digital data are put into a 3-D implant planning software program to determine the exact location, appropriate depth and angle for the implant. The program provides coordinates for the manufacturer to make a 3-D resin “guide,” or template, to place the implant. A hole in the template for the implant guides the dental surgeon for exact placement.
The ceramic implant is placed with a protective cap to allow for the three- to four-month healing phase before the tooth can be used for chewing.
Ceramic implants can be used for single implants or groups of teeth. Although the ceramic implant is available to all implant patients, the cost is higher than titanium implants, Dr. Seitz said.