Would you like a metal-free removable denture? Then a modern one made of high-performance plastic, or PEEK, that is biologically well-tolerated, is a definite possibility. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Metal-Free PEEK for you
Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) is a material that has been tried and tested in medicine for years. Due its good mechanical properties, resistance to high temperatures and chemical resistance, it has been used in surgery as a material for knee replacements, spinal surgery and hip prostheses. Now PEEK can be used for dentures as well, because PEEK combines excellent biocompatibility with bone-like properties. Scaffolding for dentures can be produced from industrially manufactured blanks using CAD/CAM technology.
There are many good reasons to choose a metal-free denture. Some people are intolerant to metals; other people don’t want dentures containing metal for ethical reasons. Ceramics can be used for crowns, bridges or implants. But up now removable dentures, which are fastened in the mouth with braces, clamps or crowns, have depended only on the use of metal. But the use of high-performance plastic, PEEK (which belongs to the PAEK family of polyaryletherketone semi-crystalline plastics) is changing this.
The use of Metal-Free PEEK
Long before PEEK became known in dentistry, it was extensively used in the automotive and aircraft industry, as well as orthopedics where it is highly regarded. Because PEEK is a bioinert and sterilizable material with low water absorption, it is highly suitable for implants in hips, knees, finger joints and as replacement of individual intervertebral bodies in the spine. So far it has not shown clinically relevant material fatigue along the lines of metal fatigue. This has resulted in PEEK being increasingly used for the manufacture of dentures. Scientific studies on dentures made of PEEK is very promising.
- Advantages of PEEK as a denture material
- Compared to materials that have traditionally used in dentistry, i.e. gold or other metallic alloys, PEEK has several advantages. It is corrosion-free, X-ray transparent, and displays bone-like elasticity. As PEEK is resistant to wear and abrasion, it causes very little damage to adjacent healthy teeth. After its many years of use in medicine, there have been no indications of allergic reactions on the part of patients.
- Its mechanical properties include resistance to high temperatures, as well as excellent chemical resistance. These qualities have made PEEK an indispensable material in the entire medical field. Its good physical and chemical properties result from the semi-crystalline structure of the material which ensures that it is not brittle.
- It also has notable elasticity and a high melting point – PEEK only melts at temperatures above 280° C. Its bending strength of 3.1 GPS prevents the material from breaking and gives it a bone-like consistency which ensures flexibility (as opposed to metals) and resistance to distortion. All these qualities make it ideal for making removable dentures and implants. Its shock absorbing properties ensure a gentle effect on the jawbone.
- PEEK dental prostheses are comfortable to wear. Patients like the ease of wearing them and the fact that the bite feels natural. They also like the fact that PEEK is tasteless and has low heat and electrical conductivity.
So don’t hesitate to ask your dentist or specialized dental laboratory about PEEK or PAEK dentures!
HOW DOES PEEK COMPARE TO OTHER MATERIALS USED IN DENTISTRY?
As a relative newcomer to dental materials, PEEK can’t really be compared long-term yet. However, compared to conventional materials such as gold or base metals (non-precious metals), PEEK has advantages. Gold is an expensive material so patients often can’t afford it. The processing of non-precious metals is complex, and patients can have an allergic reaction to them. The possibility of dangerous interactions with other materials also exists.
THE USE OF PEEK FOR DENTURES
Light, metal-free denture frameworks can be made from the high-performance polymer PEEK. They are long-lasting and have a low susceptibility to plaque. The water absorption is only 0.1% compared to the prosthetic material PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate), where the water absorption is 0.3%.
Metal-free PEEK is resistant to wear-and-tear in the mouth. Furthermore, its low specific weight, resistance to plaque, bone-like elasticity, coupled with the freedom from metals and its almost non-existent material fatigue, is ensuring that this material is becoming increasingly popular for dentures.