What is my dental prosthesis made of?
When you experience the loss of a tooth, you usually acquire an awareness of the fascinating nature of this organ.
We miss its texture, its functionality and aesthetics and we are amazed by its extraordinary adherence to bone. Natural teeth are composed of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium; and its external part, the enamel, is also the hardest material that exists in our body.
Dentistry has achieved substitutes that are very akin to a natural tooth in appearance and functionality but only if the best materials are used and if the dentist and the prosthetist have sufficient skill to understand our needs as patients and are capable of reproducing them in the final result. In my experience I have been able to prove dental prostheses that scraped the tongue, that moved, fell or deteriorated and broke easily. My advice: understand and value what our options are.
The prosthesis can be of several types, depending on whether we have lost one, several or need to replace all the teeth. This article focuses only on the visible part of the prosthesis, that is, on the materials from which the crowns, bridges and veneers are manufactured. In the event that we have only lost one tooth or part of it, we will need a crown; if there are several adjacent pieces, a bridge; snd if it’s all the denture, we’ll need a full-arch prosthesis.
Throughout history, a great variety of materials have been used in dentistry, from wood to teeth of bovine origin. Until the 18h century, dental techniques were very underdeveloped, but that is when the experts started to try and investigate beyond your own human teeth or teeth of animal origin, such as ivory and finally minerals or porcelain. The selection depended on its mechanical versatility and biological stability.
According to Artedental prosthetist at Puerto de la Cruz, Fernando Griffón, considered one of the best technicians in the country, today the most commonly used materials are metals, ceramics, resins and, as a state-of-the-art material, the composite
The Etruscans and the Egyptians were the first to use gold in prosthetics. The Etruscans created artificial teeth with the mixture of precious metal and teeth of bovine origin, while the Egyptians used gold thread to tie their wooden or animal-derived prostheses to the adjacent pieces.
Although its use has been widespread in the manufacture of crowns and bridges, today it is not so common to find this metal, except for its use in certain communities, where dental ornaments are a symbol of status.
Currently, metals are used for their hardness at the base of crowns or bridges, which will then be coated with porcelain or resin. According to maestro Griffón, the metals used today are “gold alloys and palladium, chromium and cobalt or chromium and nickel”. “However,” he adds, “being dark shades, you must first give them an additional layer of orange and pink, which are the only colours capable of covering the black; to then apply the ceramic. “
In this sense, the zirconium has been a revolution in the manufacture of prostheses. “It’s white, the colour of the tooth, which provides a great advantage, because you only have to add the last layer of ceramic.” The zirconium, in addition to being white, “is more aesthetic and lets light in, a characteristic that gives life to the tooth”.
Ceramic or porcelain
The first porcelain tooth was created in the first years of the s. SVIII. This new material managed to unseat the use of freshly extracted human teeth or pieces of animal origin. Its ease of molding is what gets its great similarity with natural teeth, which adds the advantage of being a hard and rigid material.
“While it is the most durable material, it is also true that its cost is higher and that its repairs are more complex than in the case of resins,” explains Sr. Griffón.
Its use is also very common in the manufacture of prostheses, although more recent than in the previous cases. These are acrylic resins, and its great advan-tages are its easy handling, its flexibility and easy repair, plus it is a material of lower cost than ceramic or por-celain.
“It may be that its durability is less than that of ceramics,” explains the Artedental prosthetist, “but its flexibility makes it less fragile when fracturing.”
The composite could be considered the “last cry” in the prosthesis manufacturing materials. It is not a new material, but it has undergone an evolution.
“Until about ten years ago, the composite was composed of composite resins, which made it easier to lose colour or acquire yellowish tones,” the expert recalls. It was then when the ceramic is incorporated into the composite, which improves its advantages expone-ntially. “At Artedental, for example, we use a 92% composite made of ceramic, so it shares all its advantages with the added improvement that it’s easier to repair.”