Did we push dental ceramics too far? A brief history of ceramic dental implants

James E. Haubenreich, Fonda G. Robinson, Karen P. West, Robert Q. Frazer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Humankind has developed and used ceramics throughout history. It currently has widespread industrial applications. Dental ceramics are used for fabricating highly esthetic prosthetic denture teeth, crowns, and inlays. However, ceramic's biocompatibility and compressive strength are offset by its hardness and brittleness. Nonetheless, a single crystal sapphire aluminum oxide endosseous implant was developed in 1972 as an alternative to metal. It was more esthetic than its metallic counterparts and was eventually produced in a variety of shapes and sizes. Clinical studies demonstrated its excellent soft and hard tissue biocompatibility, yet the range of problems included fractures during surgery, fractures after loading, mobility, infection, pain, bone loss, and lack of osseointegration. Ultimately, single crystal sapphire implants fell into irredeemable disfavor because of its poor impact strength, and dentists and surgeons eventually turned to other implant materials. However, bioactive ceramic coatings on metal implants have kept ceramics as a key component in dental implantology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-628
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2005


  • Alumina oxide ceramics
  • Dental ceramics
  • Endosseous implant
  • Single crystal sapphire implant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Dentistry (all)


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