The dental industry is one that has received great benefit from advancements in technology. Over the past 30 years or so, dentistry has advanced in leaps and bounds. This is true both practices in dentistry as well as the engineering behind dental equipment.
In dentistry as within any area of healthcare there must be very strict practices when it comes to the materials and processes that are used. The equipment used in dentistry must be sterile, durable and of extremely high quality.
This tends to drive up the price of dental equipment as well as the procedures carried out by dentists, and this cost is of course passed on to the patient.
When it comes to dental equipment, higher quality metals are often used in order to ensure the cleanliness and longevity of the tools. The same can often be said for products such as dental implants.
Benefits of plating in dentistry
Plating plays a very important role in the dental industry because it allows more cost-effective materials to be used when making equipment and products, and then a fine layer of a more expensive material to be added as a coating. In this way, we have the best of both worlds – we have a cost-effective manufacturing process whilst also benefiting from the best material.
In particular, some benefits of plating within the dental industry are as follows:
- Sanitation:Sanitation and cleanliness are key in any healthcare industry. Due to the build-up of bacteria there is always a risk of infection of sanitation is not kept at the forefront of every dental procedure. Plating allows for the most sanitary materials to be used whilst keeping the overall costs as low as possible.
- Corrosion Protection:Corrasion is a big concern within dental practices. If materials could corrode this would reduce the life of equipment and pose a constant risk due to the degradation of dental equipment.
- Radiopacity:High-density metals like gold and platinum are radiopaque, this means radiation cannot easily pass through them. With practices such as this Sidcup dentist often carrying out X-rays as part of their standard day to day tasks, having tools and equipment with radiopaque qualities is essential.
- Hardness and Durability:This is an important factor for dental tools. But also, for dental products such as implants. Teeth withstand constant pressures throughout daily life in the form of talking, eating and biting. As such, the materials used for dental implants must be strong and durable.
- Pleasing Aesthetics:Aesthetics play a very important role in dentistry. This is particularly true in private practices and in cosmetic dentistry where the look and feel of dental products is as important as their purpose.
Common base materials used for dental implants
Before equipment or implants can be coated with a high-quality material of choice, a base material is required. This base material makes up 90% of the product with just a fine coating of another material being placed on top.
Common base materials used for tools and other equipment in dentistry include stainless steel, cobalt-chromium and titanium.
These materials are all very well suited as base materials because they are strong and durable, easy to manipulate but also cost effective when used in mass production.
Common materials used for plating
There are several different materials that can be used for plating and added on top of the stainless steel base in the form of a fine layer. The most common materials tend to be Gold, titanium or acrylic.
Some of the common equipment and products that benefit from plating include:
- Partial dentures
- Dental bridges
- Retention posts
- Orthopaedic implants
- Dental equipment
- Worktops and basins
The future of plating in the dental industry
The great thing is that we are still seeing many advancements in plating within the dental industry. So, we are by no means using all of the available technology. There are still many plating techniques being further developed and advanced.
Some of the practices that are still being developed include gold plating on titanium alloy – something that is notoriously difficult to do, but that also has great benefits if it can be achieved. Electro-forming is another emerging technology in the dental plating space. This involves the addition of gold atoms onto an existing base metal surface through electrolysis. This method is becoming popular as it is very fast and although it is still being developed it may one day give dental practices the ability to produce and coat implants in house in a very short space of time.
All of these plating practices are helping the dental industry to grow. They are not only providing new and more efficient tools and materials to the industry but they are also helping to drive down the cost of dentistry, through engineering process which in turn is helping to make dental treatments more affordable for the consumer.