You might think they can’t get any better, but you’d be wrong. Here are five ways that dental implants in the (sometimes very near) future will be even better.
Almost all dental implants these days are made of titanium. This is a huge improvement over previous attempts at dental implants, which may have included iron, shells, old teeth, and other materials. That’s because titanium can actually bond to your bones in a process called “osseointegration.”
But titanium does have some drawbacks. Although your bone likes it, your gums don’t always bond to it the way they bond to natural tooth material. And if you have thin or translucent gums, the greyness of the implant can show through. And a small number of people are allergic to titanium.
Fortunately, we’re already solving these problems with an alternative to titanium implants: ceramic zirconia, which we already use to make high-impact dental crowns. This material isn’t quite as durable as titanium, but it’s close, and it looks more like natural teeth under your gums. These implants are already in use by some dentists, but their long-term results remain unproven.
One way that dental implants don’t quite match up to your natural teeth is that they aren’t cushioned. Your natural tooth is soft, a little squishy, and it’s held in your jaw by tough but flexible tissue known as the periodontal ligament. This softens the impact from biting and chewing. Dental implants, though, are a hard restoration anchored firmly in your jawbone, which can increase the stress on your bones. In some cases, this may lead to early dental implant failures.
Fortunately, researchers are already working on this problem, designing dental implants that are built to cushion the blow.
Better Bone Graft
If you don’t have enough bone to support your dental implants, you may need a bone graft to build up the bone. This can sometimes add months to your dental implant procedure.
Researchers are working on bone graft materials that can speed up the process.
And they’re also trying to find solutions that give you better options for your bone graft. It’s hard to take bone from other sites in your body, and replacement options may rely on animal products that aren’t acceptable to everyone. New approaches, such as grinding up your old teeth, might bridge this gap.
3D printing is revolutionizing the world of manufacturing, and dentistry is no exception. We can already 3D print or sculpt many restorations, but we’re not yet able to do that for dental implants.
Soon, though, we may be able to print custom dental implants just for you.
Infection is the leading cause of dental implant failure. To help prevent it, researchers are working on a number of approaches that can make your dental implants more resistant to infection. This may include slow-release antibiotics or materials that stab, cut, or trap bacteria.
On the Cusp of New Technologies
At Advanced Dentistry of Tarrytown, we bring you the latest technologies in dental implants and other areas of dentistry. If you want to learn more about which of these technologies are now, which are developing, and what today’s dental implants can do for you, please call (914) 332-4402 for an appointment with a Tarrytown implant dentist.