Your next dental implant could be made of fabric

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New Delhi: The Union textiles ministry is working on your smile. In an attempt to make dental implants less expensive, the ministry is planning to develop a fabric-based tooth to replace expensive implants made from ceramics, polymers, and composites, according to two people aware of the development.

Currently, most of the components for tooth implants are imported from a select list of countries, including Israel and China, among others.

The ministry’s plan involves using dental resins made from polyester to restore and replace tooth structure, with All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to conduct research to develop the technology, the two people said, adding that the process will go through different levels of testing, including clinical trials on humans.

“The process is at the preparation stage and consultation with stakeholders is planned to lay out the strategy. The project is very costly and will take at least five years to develop a prototype,” the first person said.

Worldwide, alternative dental implant materials include titanium and its alloys, gold alloys, stainless steel, and alloys of cobalt-chromium and nickel-chromium. Fabric-based teeth, too, are used in many developing economies such as Germany and the US, among others.

The development of fabric-based teeth is part of the ministry’s National Technical Textiles Mission, and it comes under the medical textiles category. The government has increased allocation for the National Technical Textile Mission to 375 crore from 170 core in the interim budget presented on 1 February.

The key objective behind the plan is to make tooth implants a cost-effective process, the second person cited above said, adding the research for developing medical textiles will require a significant budget allocation.

The technology will be shared with private players for manufacturing to make it economically viable, the person added.

Queries sent to spokespersons of the ministries of Textiles, Health & Family Welfare and Education remained unanswered at press time.

Former president of Dental Council of India Dr. Dibyendu Mazumdar has hailed the move, stating that the project aims to make India self-reliant in the tooth implant segment. “The government should expedite the process, and once the patent is filed, they should send a copy of it to the dental council. This initiative has significant market potential,” Mazumdar said.

However, Dr Amit Kumar Sharma, head of the dental department at NIMS Dental College and Hospital in Jaipur, felt that a tooth implant entirely based on fabric is not feasible. The fabric needs to be combined with metal for better strength and longevity.

The dental implants market is growing due to increasing demand for cosmetic dentistry—apart from incidents of tooth loss—and advancements in dental implant technology.

As per a World Health Organization (WHO) report, the worldwide market for dental implants was estimated at $9.27 billion in 2022 and $10.09 billion in 2023, with a forecasted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.95% to hit $18.42 billion by 2030. According to WHO, oral diseases are prevalent noncommunicable diseases that affect almost half of the world’s population—around 45% or 3.5 billion individuals of all ages.

 

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Published: 14 Apr 2024, 10:18 PM IST

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