Dental health has been around since the early ages of civilization. Both philosopher Aristotle and physician Hippocrates wrote about the importance of keeping their teeth healthy and preventing tooth decay and gum disease. While some form of toothpaste has always existed, it wasn’t until 1498 did the toothbrush appear in China. It took another 400 years until tooth fillings appeared in England. Today, dental hygiene and health has become integrated into our lives. We go to the dentist every bi-annually to keep our teeth in top condition, people use teeth whitening toothpaste in order to keep their teeth both clean and pristine.
The obsession with healthy, white, and straight teeth, can be traced to our baser instincts. According to researchers, human teeth are the “human equivalent of a peacock’s tail”. The study was headed by British universities of Leeds and Central Lancashire, and they found that individuals with straight teeth are generally seen as healthier, more attractive, with better genetics. This can easily be seen through the culture of Hollywood.
The “Hollywood Smile” is something all celebrities have to possess. Perfectly straight teeth which are bright and white. Clean and attractive. Gaps were considered undesirable until top model Ruth Crilly rose to prominence with her gap-tooth look. However, people on a whole are still leaning towards having perfect teeth and regard it as the pinnacle of looking groomed and presentable. Back in 2014, there was a breakthrough in preventing tooth decay. Using lasers instead of fillings which can actively repair the tooth itself. Researchers are confident that technology will continue to advance in the field of dentistry and create more efficient and effective methods of keeping our smiles beautiful. However, for now, we have to contend with tooth fillings and dental implants.
Old age, injury, accidents and the like are common culprits of teeth loss but bad dental hygiene is also one of the leading causes. Despite knowing how important teeth are to us, and having the importance of dental health drilled into our minds from a young age, we often neglect our teeth and take it for granted. Over time, plaque buildup can lead to gum disease which can lead to tooth loss. Decay can also take root and destroy the entire tooth from root to crown. In the event of a loss of a tooth, dental surgeons can insert a dental implant which acts as a root, the “holder” for the tooth, so to speak. There is usually a period of time in between inserting the implant and installing the new tooth because healing has to first occur for the bone to fuse with the implant. This makes the material of the implant very important as rejection, infection and other health issues might arise from unsuitable materials.
The rise of technology means that there are more accessible materials for scientists to sculpt into pearly whites for our mouth. This new material is called zirconium and it is making the rounds in both prosthetics and dental implants. According to news reports, this material is “outstanding” and offers mechanical properties, alongside high biocompatibility and is scratch-proof and resistant to corrosion.
It has proven to be a worthy rival of the traditional titanium implants. Titanium was used in the past because it could fuse well with the jaw. The rise of zirconium has sparked debates over which material is superior. On one hand, Zirconia is highly compatible with human tissue and is bacteria resistant. It is a strong material that can resist fracturing, is long lasting and easy to color match. However, it is not as flexible as metal implants. Adjustments often lead to weakening its fracture resistance. Furthermore, it usually comes in one-piece implant and have a higher rejection rate than titanium. Aside from that, titanium can be made into a two-piece implant which can help with implant positioning. Titanium seems to be much more superior in this aspect, unless the patient is allergic to metal. In which case, titanium would be a poor choice. Choosing the best implant material is a personal choice as you need to find one that is suitable for you.
From the conception of dental implants, which were made from hard-wearing materials such as seashells and stone, it is often used for vanity over practicality. Due to the increased demand for cosmetic dentistry by the geriatric generation, patients suffering from dental diseases and fuelled by social media and the desire to look presentable, more and more people are going the extra mile to make sure they look their very best. However, there are also certain instances in which people are undergoing dental implant surgery in order to maintain a level of quality to their lives – in the case of seniors who have lost their molars and with it, the ability to chew and eat comfortably.