Industrial - Dental - PMM

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Platinum group metals in dental treatment

Industrial Dental Banner
Platinum and to a much greater extent palladium are the principal platinumgroup metals used in dental restorations. The metals are usually mixedwith gold or silver as well as copper and zinc in varying ratios to producealloys suitable for dental inlays, crowns and bridges. Small amounts ofruthenium or iridium are sometimes added.

The most common application is in crowns, where the alloy forms the core onto which porcelain is bonded to build up an artificial tooth. The aim of using platinum group metals in dental alloys is to provide strength, stiffness and durability whilst the other alloyed metals provide malleability.

Alloy types

There are two main types of precious metal alloys used in dentistry:

  • High gold alloys, normally alloyed with a small amount (around 10%) of platinum
  • Low gold alloys, predominantly palladium based with a palladium content typically ranging from 50% to 80%

Development of the market for palladium

Platinum-containing high gold alloys have been used by dentists for many decades but the use of palladium in dentistry is relatively recent. It dates from the 1980s, when a rise in the price of gold encouraged palladium to be introduced as a lower-cost alternative.

In Japan, the government operates a specific mandate stating that all government-subsidised dental alloys have to include a palladium content of 20%. This alloy is known as the kinpala alloy and is used in around 90% of all Japanese dental treatment. Hence, Japan is the largest palladium-consuming region for dental applications, followed by North America and then Europe.

Dental demand for palladium since 1980 is estimated in our market data tables.