Dental implants

Why 3D printed dental implants are better

3d printed titanium dental implants

What are dental implants?

A dental implant is typically an artificial tooth root is composed of a metal screw which is placed into the jawbone where the tooth was originally located. The jawbone surrounding the implant would grow around it to hold the implant securely in place over time. This process is called osseointegration. There are plenty of reasons why someone may have lost of one or more missing teeth and is not always related to having poor oral health or tooth decay after having too many sugary treats. Not everyone has a fully grown healthy jawbone. Some are born with bone deformities, have had trauma accidents, (periodontal) gum disease, cancers and conditions that have resulted in bone loss. While a dental implant is used to replace amissing tooth, there are options now for candidates with bone loss and bone deficiency.

Why do patients prefer titanium for dental implants?

Most patients would prefer dental implants that are designed to be long-lasting or even permanent. Titanium is very durable and have stood the test of time! It has been the preferred material for dental implants since the 1960s. Its use has extended to dental bridge, dental crown, denture and medical implantable devices for cranial, maxillofacial, orthopaedic, limb and joint surgeries. There are plenty of research done on the longevity and predictability of dental implant treatment and many patients with titanium dental implants can attest to its effectiveness. 

Titanium implants are not magnetic, and they do not interfere with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and will not set off metal detectors. 

Every person is different and there is no one-size-fits-all implant that works for tooth replacement. With software that could convert a patient's CBCT scan into computer aided design files that are 3D printable, Additive Engineering can manufacture a patient-specific implant in days, compared to weeks of consultation involving implant placement retro-fitting an off-the-shelf product. A well-designed implant to fit the patient boosts accuracy and finish aids osseointegration and can halve the healing time. The ability to 3D print fine mesh and lattice structure means the titanium implant can replicate different densities of human bone, in order to share the stress with surrounding bone, improving implant success.

Advantages of 3D printing titanium dental implants

Other advantages of manufacturing patient-specific titanium dental implants include:

1. Titanium implants are biocompatible

Not every material is suitable for implants. Not only does it need to be non-toxic, it also needs to be accepted by the body. The titanium alloy grade we use is a certified, biocompatible grade, suitable for implants. This means it is inert and will not react with bodily fluids. Rarely does titanium pose a risk of allergic reactions. If a patient has a history of allergies to metal, it is best to have tests done before having titanium implant procedures.

2. Titanium is resistant to corrosion and wear

Titanium has excellent corrosion resistance by virtue of a stable, passive oxide layer it forms on its surface. Therefore titanium is used in aggressive environments of aerospace and marine applications., so titanium will be able to withstand sugary, acidic drinks, salt water and spicy curries! Titanium’s strong wear resistance means it has high fatigue limit and will last for years with continued use.

additive engineering

3. Titanium encourages osseointegration

Osseointegration is defined as a structural and functional connection between living bone and the load-bearing implant surface. This is critical for any implant procedure to be successfully integrated for new bone formation to take place within months. A customised titanium mesh is often used for bone regeneration and bone grafting.

4. Titanium is strong and light

Titanium is dense and has one of the highest strength to weight ratios amongst metals. This means titanium provides the rigidity for severe bone defects and supports against the bite force, without weighing the jaw down.

Stainless steel was another material used in earlier implants. However, titanium is stronger and almost half as light. The advantage of having lightweight implants over heavier materials especially in the context of the chewing motion is obvious over time.

Fractures in titanium implants are very rare. This is especially so when compared to zirconia implants and ceramic implants, which are more brittle and have a higher risk of fractures or rejection after dental implant surgery. A zirconia implant has lower flexural strength than titanium and will be more likely to fracture under bending forces.



What to expect in a typical implant procedure


When a patient experiences jaw pain and visits the dentist, the dentist would refer patient to a radiology clinic to get a CBCT scan or can even have one done if the practice has a CBCT machine. The dentist then downloads the file when the patient does a follow-up consultation. The scan usually shows if the natural tooth needs replacement or if there is degradation of the jawbone (periodontitis) which is difficult to spot under gum tissue in an inter-oral examination. Depending on the complexity of the case, the dentist could recommend dental implants and patient would receive a referral to a surgeon or specialist. General dentists and periodontists can also place implants if they have had advanced training and are experienced with implant placement. The CBCT scan is converted into a computer aided design file to create patient-specific implant, abutments, and crowns. The files are then printed in bio-compatible titanium, checked, finished, and sterilised before being sent to the surgeon.

The process of implanting a titanium implant could involve:

  1. The surgeon will place the actual implant post (like a screw) into the jawbone
  2. An abutment is placed on top of the implant to keep the post secure and acts as a base for the tooth crown
  3. The surgeon will place a crown that mimics the look of a natural tooth, on top of the abutment, and works as protection for the rest of the post to complete the look of a replacement tooth. It takes a few months for the jawbone to heal properly, and a prosthodontist may also be involved in installing the crown.

How does titanium compare to other dental implant materials?

 Titanium is the most common dental implant material because it bonds well to the bone, is reliable for most and is one of the more cost-efficient options. It is also a common material in 3D printed prosthetics jawline correction in lockjaw (TMJ) surgery. In some cases, ceramic implants may be used for those with metal allergies or sensitivities and for cosmetic dentistry. Zirconia is an option that fuses well with bone, although they come at a higher price, is less strong and has not been around long enough to stand the test of time. Some patients may prefer Zirconia implants to titanium for its aesthetics integration. 

The biggest advantage of dental implants in restorative dentistry is that they look and feel like real teeth, without sacrificing the quality of an adjacent tooth. Alternatives to implant dentistry are wearing dentures or having a dental bridge. Cobalt Chrome is another material used in thin, removable partial dentures, with strong mechanical properties

Looking for quality 3D printed titanium implants?

This article is written in consultation with dentists and dental technicians. If you like to speak to an experienced dentist about complex crown and bridge and teeth implant procedure, please contact:

Sydney – Dr. Andrew Ip :

Melbourne – Jeroen Klijnsma :

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