How Titanium is Used in Dentistry
Owing to its unique characteristics, titanium is used extensively in many industries. This space age metal is the material of choice for aerospace, aeronautical and marine applications because it is strong, yet light, can withstand high temperatures, and resist corrosion. However, the metal is also used in more well-known areas, such as dentistry.
Presently, the use of titanium and titanium alloys for medical and dental processes has increased rapidly. This versatile metal has taken the place of conventional noble and base metal alloys in making dental implants as well as crown and bridge prostheses. Thanks to modern processing practices like lost-wax casting, computer-aided machining, and electric discharge machining, titanium’s use in producing biomedical devices has greatly expanded. Nowadays, you’ll find titanium in several dental devices, dental crowns and partial denture frameworks.
Titanium’s numerous physical and mechanical properties make it perfect for implants and prostheses. When alloyed or mixed with other metals like aluminum, vanadium or iron, titanium’s mechanical properties can be transformed, further improving its usefulness. With today’s state-of-the-art equipment, titanium can be cast into single- and multiple-unit-crown-and-bridge frameworks, implant-supported structures and partial or full denture bases. It is likewise possible to mix dental porcelain with titanium to create crowns and bridges. But the type of dental porcelain is limited by two vital factors – temperature and thermal expansion. First, the porcelain fusion temperature must be less than 800 C to eliminate the possibility of any phase transition. Second, the coefficient of thermal expansion of the porcelain must be the same with that of the metal. High fusing temperatures can cause excessive oxide formation.
Titanium’s role in making endosseous and subperiosteal implants is also well documented. Endosseous implants that you’ll find in the form of rods, posts and blades are made of either pure titanium or titanium alloys. Owing to osseointegration, the titanium rods join with living tissue and act as a support for the dental implants that are placed above them. Therefore, the living tissue and the implant are structurally and functionally connected – meaning they are bio-compatible. New developments in device design and dental implantation processes have led to predictable procedures.
Previously, the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs didn’t approve of endosseous implants to help patients with missing teeth. Its position changed in 1996 when the Council said that ADA-accepted endosseous implants can be used on carefully selected patients as long as their benefits and risks have been fully explained. The Council added that many factors must be considered in deciding whether to use endosseous implants as a treatment option. However, if endosseous implants are to be used, the Council recommends titanium and titanium alloys for their bio-compatibility and clinical success.