What are dental implants ?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root used in dentistry to support restorations that resemble a tooth or group of teeth.
Virtually all dental implants placed today are root-form endosseous implants. In other words, virtually all dental implants placed in the 21st century appear similar to an actual tooth root (and thus possess a “root-form”) and are placed within the bone (end- being the Greek prefix for “in” and osseous referring to “bone”).
Prior to the advent of root-form endosseous implants, most implants were either blade endosseous implants, in that the shape of the metal piece placed within the bone resembled a flat blade, or subperiosteal implants, in which a framework was constructed to lie upon and was attached with screws to the exposed bone of the jaws.
Component Parts Of An Implant
A typical implant consists of a titanium screw (resembling a tooth root) with a roughened or smooth surface.
The majority of dental implants are made out of commercially pure titanium, which is available in 4 grades depending upon the amount of carbon and iron contained.
More recently grade 5 titanium has increased in use. Grade 5 titanium, Titanium 6AL-4V, (signifying the Titanium alloy containing 6% Aluminium and 4% Vanadium alloy) is believed to offer similar osseointegration levels as commercially pure titanium.
Ti-6Al-4V alloy offers better tensile strength and fracture resistance. Today most implants are still made out of commercially pure titanium (grades 1 to 4) but some implant systems (Endopore and NanoTite) are fabricated out of the Ti-6Al-4V alloy.
Implant surfaces may be modified by plasma spraying, anodizing,etching or sandblasting to increase the surface area and the integration potential of the implant.
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