New materials

A more colorful mouth

Dental support device in the colors of blue, pink and red, is made with a ceramic and pigments

Eduardo CesarCopper, iron and nickel imprint colors into the aluminaEduardo Cesar

An essential device in the treatment of dental correction that serves to re-align the teeth, the bracket functions as a support that transmits the forces of the arch wire to the dental arch. During many years these pieces of equipment were basically metallic, made of stainless steel. With the incorporation of new materials, such as composite plastics and ceramics, white and transparent supports were developed. Now they can also be found in more radical colors, such as blue, pink, yellow and red, as well as the discrete pearl and white, as a result of a development made by the Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Electrochemistry and Ceramics (Liec), of the Chemistry Institute of the Paulista State University (Unesp), at the town of Araraquara, in partnership with the company Tecnident Equipamentos Ortodônticos, from São Carlos.

The launch of the new product, which has been on the internal market since March of this year and is being prepared for export, has teenagers its target public, who are always in search of new devices in the dentist’s office, such as the application of piercing in teeth, which are small glued crystals.
The new colors were obtained with the use of two known ceramic materials, zirconium and alumina. In order to arrive at the desired results, the researchers added in different quantities of particles of iron, nickel, chromium and copper, on a nanometric scale, capable of coloring the ceramic matrices. The application of the pigments to the alumina resulted in the colors red and pink, whilst with zirconium the colors obtained were blue, white, pearl and yellow.

Translucent bracelet
The technology for obtaining the different colors resulted in a patent request jointly between the Liec, which is integrated into the Multidisciplinary Center for the Development of Ceramic Materials (CMDMC), one of FAPESP’s ten Research, Innovation and Diffusion Centers (Cepid) and the company Tecnident. The partnership, which began in 2003, is going to continue. “Now we intend to work on the development of a translucent bracket using alumina”, advised José D’Amico Neto, a director at Tecnident.

In reality, to arrive at a translucent bracket was the initial research proposal, since the market for transparent ceramic supports is currently dominated by only two companies, one German and the other from the United States. “The product is very expensive on the international market and has reached prices ten times those of the common metal bracket”, says  D’Amico Neto. The grouping of 20 metal braces, used for a dental bracelet, costs around US$ 7.00, whilst the transparent version comes in at around US$ 130.00.

Estimates point towards the dental component market in Brazil taking in around US$ 100 million per year. The participation of the Brazilian industry should reach some 60% to 80% of this total, a section to be attained with the gradual substitution of the imported products by national products. The external market for the Brazilian products is also growing on account of the quality and the competitive prices. It is based on these two reasons that Tecnident wants to amplify its sales in Latin America, the United States and part of Europe and Asia.