Ceramic implants

Oral implantology is the branch of dentistry concerned with replacing missing teeth with synthetic roots anchored into the bone – implants – that can support individual or groups of teeth, or can serve as a support for a complete set of prostheses (overdentures). It is worth noting that the use of implants enables the natural teeth adjacent to the space to be filled with the prosthesis to be conserved intact, as the implant does not involve the natural teeth. In addition, when there are no natural teeth, implants provide a suitable support for prostheses. The aim of any type of implant is total osseointegration. This process was first described by the pioneers of implantology in the late 1960s, namely Prof. Per-Ingvar Branemark, who coined the term osseointegration, and Prof. Andrè Schroeder who coined the term functional ankyloses. The term, deriving from the Latin, implies the fusion of an “element” to the bone: but what element? Nowadays implants are generally made of pure titanium, or of an alloy of the metal; we’ll see why in just a moment. When a foreign body is present in our organism, we may reject it or show symptoms of intolerance. As titanium does not generally cause adverse reactions, it forms a direct bond with the bone: the basis of osseointegration. The material of the implant, and how it is processed, are important factors when it comes to bonding bone tissue with the implant, and to get stable and healthy results. Thanks to its extreme biocompatibility, durability and resistance, titanium is also used for a large number of other medical implants, such as hip replacements, pacemakers, etc. Cases of failed implants owing to allergic reactions to titanium have, however, been recorded in the literature. Anyone suffering from allergies, and specifically anyone allergic to titanium, must not be treated with metallic implants. Recent research has therefore focused on metal-free implants. These implants are made of Zirconium dioxide and stabilised with Yttrium oxide. The implant is therefore made of ceramic. Ceramic implants have various advantages: they are biomimetic, i.e. they cannot be seen through the tissue and therefore give excellent aesthetic results, they retain less plaque, they are perfectly biocompatible and they do not provoke allergic reactions.