A wide, toothy grin is often considered one of the hallmarks of beauty. But for those who want beautiful teeth ready for public display, many have to first go through a bit of discomfort at the dentist – as millions of people of all ages can attest to… Although modern dental practices make visits as pleasant as possible with a friendly atmosphere, soothing background music and bright furnishings, conventional dental techniques do not always offer a comfortable solution for patients. Evonik shows how the experience can be improved, illustrated by an intelligent technology for dental prostheses that is based on VESTAKEEP® PEEK, a high-performance plastic perfect for a variety of medical applications.
In the United States, more than 40 million people wear a partial or total denture prosthesis. For many patients, a denture supported by implants is the preferred option for a beautiful smile. But dentures don't just have to look good. They have to fulfill important tasks. Without a functioning denture, the proper biting and grinding of food is not possible. A high-quality denture should also be tailored to the patient's individual appearance, without impairing natural articulation when speaking. And lastly, they should fit snugly, be comfortable to wear and have a natural appearance when worn.
New quality in dental care with PEEK
Whether crowns, bridges or implants, most current dental restoration materials are based on metals, plastics or ceramics. However, there are also new, intelligent metal-free dental applications that are made of the incredibly versatile, high-performance polymer, polyetheretherketone, or PEEK for short. "PEEK brings a new quality to dental care for patients. Thanks to its outstanding material properties, this high-performance plastic fulfills all the aesthetic and functional tasks of a modern, implant-supported dental prosthesis," says Dr. Bernd Siewert, dentist and director Clínica Somosaguas SLP in Madrid, Spain. As a specialist in implant therapies for many years, a former instructor at the International Training Center for Dental Implantology (IFZI) in Nuremberg, and the developer of his own PEEK-based technique for implant-supported dentures, Siewert knows what he is talking about.
The technique developed by Siewert illustrates the use of PEEK in dental applications. The SIEWERTBRIDGE® is a screw-retained prosthesis specially developed for implants, and significantly reduces mechanical and biological complications – when compared to conventional techniques using metal and ceramic bridges or hybrid prostheses.
Intelligent dentures for more comfort and safety for patients
The SIEWERTBRIDGE® is composed of a material containing a mix of zirconium oxide and a high-performance polymer from Evonik, VESTAKEEP® PEEK. From this clinically proven and extremely biocompatible polymer, the fully anatomical bridge framework – including the tooth stumps – is designed and milled to match the plastic. Different color variants of the Evonik’s PEEK material, ranging from white to tooth color to gingiva, expand the esthetic possibilities of these resin-based bridge constructions. As a final step, the bridge framework is veneered with abrasion-resistant individual ceramic crowns. Relatively simple, the fully digitized procedure can be adapted for any dental laboratory through the use of computer-aided-design and -manufacturing.
"When it comes to screw-retained dentures on implants, SIEWERTBRIDGE® offers the most precise restoration compared to traditional solutions such as metal-ceramic bridges or hybrid dentures. As it is a metal-free and relatively flexible solution, the technology significantly reduces the likelihood of mechanical or biological complications," says Tanja Bücken-Thielmeyer, Product Manager at Dental Direkt.
The SIEWERTBRIDGE® design principle also handles many challenges better than conventional dentures screwed onto implants: "The human jaw muscles can generate extreme pressure," explains Siewert. "Due to their natural properties, metal-based denture constructions cannot absorb this pressure. As a result, the pressure is transmitted through the entire denture construction and implants to the jawbone. In the short term, this can lead to fractures at the junctions between the bridge construction and the implant. In the long term, this can even lead to the loss and reassimilation of bone, also known as bone resorption." The bone-like elasticity of PEEK combined with the SIEWERTBRIDGE® design absorbs the jaw’s forces and minimizes mechanical and biological complications. "The PEEK biomaterial, however, behaves like a shock absorber and replaces the periodontal ligament of the natural tooth. Patients find this very comfortable. The natural flexibility of this high-performance plastic ensures the dentures fit snugly even when the construction isn’t an identical match. Additionally, we haven’t observed any bone loss due to the implants or mechanical complications such as screw fractures or loosening in numerous studies over many years."
With PEEK for dentures, function meets esthetics
As a high-performance biomaterial, Evonik’s VESTAKEEP® PEEK offers a unique combination of performance and esthetics, with key advantages for dental laboratories, dentists, and their patients:
- PEEK is a biocompatible and biostable material that has been successfully used in implantology for many years. It is also considered the material of choice for those with allergies to traditional implant materials.
- This high-performance plastic is a great metal-free alternative to dental applications based on titanium or cobalt-chromium. Since the material hardly conducts heat, PEEK does not react to hot or cold foods and beverages, allowing wearers to enjoy their meals in greater comfort.
- Evonik produces its VESTAKEEP® PEEK molding compounds for dental technology in several colors, including natural tooth and gum colors. This expands the aesthetical possibilities of modern dental restorations for all users. VESTAKEEP® can also be veneered with other acrylics or ceramics for a gleaming smile.
- In addition to its strength, PEEK offers bone-like elasticity that absorbs chewing forces, which allows for a more precise, tension-free positioning of the prosthesis that is key to the long term success of the restoration.
New dental materials such as Evonik’s high-performance plastic, VESTAKEEP® PEEK, enable the development of more precise, technology driven dental techniques. Cutting-edge materials like VESTAKEEP® elevate dental care to such a high level that both the visit to the dentist and the treatment itself can permanently paint a beautiful, full-mouthed smile on patients’ faces.
Product Manager at Dental Direkt
Head of Medical Systems Europe at Evonik
Is PEEK a fad in dental restorations or will the biomaterial become permanently established in the industry?
Bücken-Thielmeyer: Let me say right from the start: PEEK is not a "newcomer" in dental technology. We have been selling our DD peek MED for almost ten years and have seen a constant increase in demand. We are observing an increased demand for biocompatible solutions on the market. It is therefore plausible that PEEK will become permanently established as a dental biomaterial.
Engel: Modern medical technology is developing in the direction of allowing treatment that focuses better on patients’ individual needs. Our VESTAKEEP® PEEK expands these possibilities, for example, when different material tolerances are involved. Additionally, we produce the biomaterial in different color variants. Our PEEK can be veneered with common abrasive materials such as ceramics, zirconium dioxide, or plastics. For dental laboratories and dentists, this high-performance plastic is a true alternative to metal-based dental restoration constructions. We are at the beginning of a long journey for an even better quality-of-life for patients.
Why there is less awareness about PEEK-based solutions for dentures?
Bücken-Thielmeyer: The materials recommended by dentists to their patients generally depend on two factors. First of all, it depends on the type of technology offered by the dental laboratory the dentist works with. As an industrial manufacturer and supplier of dental materials, we inform the industry about the benefits of PEEK with factual arguments and marketing campaigns, and suggest the inclusion of PEEK-based restoration solutions in dental-treatment portfolios. The second factor is whether PEEK is covered by statutory health insurance policies as part of the standard care package? Currently, it isn’t and the appropriate health policy course must first be set for this.
Engel: Dentists are well aware of the advantages of PEEK. In many cases, it is the classic supply and demand scenario: If a dental laboratory does not offer PEEK-based solutions, a dentist cannot propose them to his patients. If there is not enough demand for PEEK from dental practices, the laboratories will not supply it as an option. We are therefore talking to all market participants and explaining the advantages for both parties in the direction of individually focused patient treatment.
Evonik is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. The company is active in more than 100 countries around the world and generated sales of €18.5 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of €2.49 billion in 2022. Evonik goes far beyond chemistry to create innovative, profitable, and sustainable solutions for customers. About 34,000 employees work together for a common purpose: We want to improve life today and tomorrow.
In so far as forecasts or expectations are expressed in this press release or where our statements concern the future, these forecasts, expectations or statements may involve known or unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results or developments may vary, depending on changes in the operating environment. Neither Evonik Industries AG nor its group companies assume an obligation to update the forecasts, expectations or statements contained in this release.