Dental implants have come a long way in recent years, and the recent advances are just the beginning. While current dental implant technology leads to a safe and effective tooth-replacement option, scientists are always looking for ways to improve them and make them even better than natural teeth. While you don't want to put off getting any dental implants you need while you wait for these technological advances that are just in their early stages and likely won't be used in dental implants for many years, here is a glimpse into two interesting features that may be available in dental implants some day.
1. 3D-Printed Crowns
Dental implants are made of a false tooth, usually called a crown, a post, and an abutment piece that join the two. The false teeth are currently made of super-hard and durable ceramic that looks and functions like a natural tooth would. This material is molded to also look like a natural tooth, and molding is either done in a lab by hand or by the implant specialist with a CEREC machine. If you have heard of 3D printing, then it may not surprise you that researchers are looking for ways to use this technology to create implant crowns.
While CEREC is similar to 3D printing, there are some differences. A CEREC machine "mills" a tooth out of the chosen ceramic material while a 3D-printer produces a new tooth layer-by-layer. However, researchers are working on creating a machine that will create a tooth using true 3D-printing technology. It is believed that this technology may be able to produce a tooth with more nooks and crannies that more closely mimic those in a natural tooth. This printing option would also open the door to using different materials to make the teeth than the ceramic used today.
2. Antimicrobial Crowns
The ceramic material used to make implant crowns today cannot develop cavities like natural teeth can. However, it does not protect the other teeth in the mouth from cavities or kill bacteria in your mouth, although no one expects it to.
Researchers have decided that instead of just replacing a natural tooth, they want to develop implant crowns that also benefit your mouth in other ways by making them with antibacterial materials. They are creating implant teeth made of antimicrobial polymers that work well with 3D-printing machines. These teeth won't just be cavity-proof themselves, like current dental implants are, they will also kill the cavity-causing bacteria in saliva to help ward off the development of cavities in a person's natural teeth, as well.
This would be a great feature, since many people get dental implants to replace teeth that decayed so badly they needed to be extracted, and this could help keep their remaining teeth healthier so they are less likely to need replacement in the future, as well. The material is still being tested to see if it is even useful as an implant material and compatible with toothpaste, so it may not reach the market, but another similar material may some day.
If you think dental implants themselves are amazing technological advancements, then you may be surprised that scientists are looking for ways to make them even more amazing. However, today's dental implants work well how they are currently made, so don't hold out for these advancements that may not be available for many years if you need implants today. If you have questions about dental implants, visit a dentist in your area like Kenai Dental Clinic.