Researchers in Romania have developed dental implants that give artificial teeth the same mobility as their natural counterparts. The hope is that this will help dental implants last even longer, especially in people with bite problems or who commonly eat hard foods.
Natural Tooth Mobility
We know what you’re thinking now, “Are my teeth supposed to move? Isn’t that a sign of unhealthy teeth?” Yes and no. Unlike dental implants, your teeth are not actually integrated into the jawbone. Instead, they are secured with periodontal ligaments, soft tissue that connects them to the jaw. They are then thoroughly encased in the jawbone, which limits their movement.
Because of the way teeth are secured by soft tissue, they have a little bit of give, with the soft tissue acting as a kind of shock absorber for your jawbone. When you bite down hard, some of the force gets absorbed by the ligament so your teeth and jawbone don’t suffer all the force, which would put them at increased risk of fracture.
How much should your teeth move? Ideally, healthy teeth should move less than 1/100th of an inch, which is pretty imperceptible. If your teeth have movement that you can detect, it’s likely that you are suffering from some degree of gum disease.
Designing a Mobile Dental Implant
There have been many attempts to make mobile dental implants. It’s recognized that passing on all the force of biting and chewing may contribute to dental implant failure. Although we already have very good dental implant success rates, we want our dental implants to last a lifetime with proper care.
To solve this problem, researchers from the Romanian town of Cluj invented a dental implant concept that has a titanium exterior like other dental implants, but it has an elastic material inside the dental implant shell, allowing it to move like natural teeth.
The concept is still a long way from gaining international acceptance, but we applaud efforts to make dental implants more naturalistic and longer-lasting, and if this concept turns out to work as well as hoped, we will be happy to adopt it.