Tooth loss is a significant issue in the world. Whether caused by disease or trauma, an estimated 7% of the world’s adult population is missing at least one complete tooth, according to the World Health Organization. Not only can this be functionally limiting, but it can also carry a social stigma.
To help make these smiles whole again, dentists have used implants since as early as 600 AD — though, of course, modern dental implants are much more advanced. And this evolution of technology is ongoing as innovations emerge each year.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest trends in dental implant technology to see how the space might shift over the next few years.
The Current Landscape of Dental Implant Technology
While ancient dental implants would have been made of wood and other naturally occurring materials, the first “modern” implant was made of titanium. Placed in 1965, this advancement launched a paradigm shift in the dental industry, gaining traction with doctors and patients alike for their quality and durability. Since then, implants have evolved, but the most common material remains titanium.
Today, the implant industry has become one of the fastest-growing segments of dentistry, expected to reach $13 billion by the end of the year. As we’ll see in a moment, this is largely due to advancements in technology, rising rates of dental disorders and an increase in demand for cosmetic dentistry in the global West, among other factors.
Top 10 Trends in Dental Implants
Now that we have a basic understanding of where the dental implant sector is at today, let’s examine the top 10 trends we’re seeing in the space:
1. Patients Prefer Dental Implants
Patients increasingly prefer dental implants as a restorative solution, especially in comparison to dentures. With over 3 million implants placed in the U.S. alone in 2019, this surge in popularity is likely rooted in the key advantages of implants. In addition to their durability, they’re often said to have a more natural look and feel, preserving the integrity of the patient’s unique smile.
2. Implants are Expected to Increase
The dental implant industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5% between 2023 and 2032. We mentioned how new tech and greater demand are contributing factors, but one of the biggest drivers will be shifting age demographics. As the aging population increases, the demand for dental implants is projected to continue rising. This is especially true in the U.S., where people aged 18 and under will be outnumbered by those 65 and older by 2030.
3. Innovations in Implant Materials and Design
While titanium has become the standard material for implants, new material technologies are using ceramic substances like zirconia and tantalum oxide. While the clinical applications of these materials are limited due to their brittleness, scientists are working on enhancing their physical properties. Others are also using the traditional titanium material while iterating on implant designs. For instance, some dentists are trying to mimic bone structure with titanium posts.
4. Antibacterial Implant Coatings
Antibacterial coatings are one of the latest material and design innovations in implant technology. These implants are coated with agents that prevent the harmful bacterial growth that ultimately leads to deterioration and decay. These coatings also help fuse the bone and implant, offering better stability and security.
5. 3D Printing Applications
Like countless other lab and prosthetic areas, 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize dental implant technology. Advanced printers allow dentists to create customized implant components with remarkable precision and efficiency. Using digital scans of a patient’s mouth, dentists can further tailor these implants to perfectly fit their mouth, resulting in a more comfortable final fit. Beyond the implant itself, 3D printing can also be used to aid in placement.
6. Computer-Guided Surgical Advancements
Speaking of comfortable placement, computer-guided surgical implant technology is enhancing patient comfort by reducing surgery time and minimizing errors. With the help of augmented reality and 4D virtual tools, dentists can first identify the potential need for soft tissue augmentation before they place the implant and ensure it fits snugly.
7. Dental Implant Cloud Technologies
Cloud computing has been a game changer for the dental industry as a whole, and implants are no different. Cloud-based systems enable dentists to easily access patient records, treatment plans and oral scans and images to streamline treatment planning and implant placement.
8. Implant Tracking Capabilities
Leveraging cloud-based solutions, dental implant trackers allow dentists to monitor and track their implant inventory to eliminate waste. Implant tracking solutions can produce a list of patients meeting specific criteria, from type of implant to placement date and more. This allows for quick and easy access to information for analyzing important implant cases.
9. Digital Implant Planning
Digital tools have been fundamental to advancements in implant technology. Using advanced 3D imaging systems and software, dentists can create precise surgical guides to enhance implant placement. This technology minimizes errors, reduces surgical time, increases precision and enhances patient outcomes, ensuring each implant fits perfectly.
10. Imaging and Cone Beam Computed Tomography
Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) machines represent the cutting-edge in computer-generated scanning tools. These 3D X-rays help dentists develop a comprehensive model of the patient’s mouth to aid in a variety of treatment planning and surgical considerations. For instance, the high-resolution scans can help determine implant position and size, locate important anatomic structures and measure the distance between points of reference.
The Future of Dental Implant Technology
As technological innovations rapidly unfold, dental implants will continue to evolve, providing patients with more comfortable, durable and natural-looking solutions to tooth loss. These trends highlight the ever-expanding role of technology in enhancing the field of dentistry and restoring smiles to patients’ faces.
If you’re looking to stay on the cutting edge of technology in the dental industry, look no further than Carestream Dental. From advanced CBCT scanners to versatile practice management software, we have everything you need to grow a healthy practice. Click here to learn more.