With the introduction of computer designed and manufacturing techniques in dentistry, it has became possible to fabricate restorations, frameworks and appliances using modern biocompatable materials including alloys, ceramics and high-performance polymers. Many of these materials cannot be processed or can only be processed with great difficulty using conventional methods. One of these newer materials is the thermoplastic composite polymer known as PolyEther Ether Ketone or PEEK.
Metal-free restorations are becoming increasingly important in dentistry due to factors such as the increased aesthetic demands of the patient, legislation in some countries and possible material incompatibility. These days, it seems more patients want to avoid incorporation of a metallic material in the mouth and clinicians are following this trend too. Ceramic materials ideally meet the aesthetic requirements but also may have material or technical disadvantages in some cases.
Polyether ether ketone (PEEK) high-performance polymer has been used in industry for many years and has also proven successful in many areas of medicine. It is now also finding increased uses in dentistry as a direct result of CAD/CAM technology.
PEEK is characterised by excellent mechanical and chemical properties. In medicine, it has long been used for the preparation of different kinds of implants. Artificial cranial plates, components of finger and knee joints or intervertebral bodies (spine implants) are just a few examples of the versatile use of the material in the area of long-term implantation. For several years, PEEK has also increasingly been applied in dentistry. Due to its combination of superior biocompatibility and ideal mechanical properties, the material is particularly attractive for dental restorations and it is ideal for CAD/CAM framework fabrication in prosthetic dentistry.
In comparison to traditional materials previously used, PEEK has an abundance of advantages. It has a high strength to weight ratio, it has elastic properties similar to human bone,it has a zero corrosion rate,has extremely low water absorption and is radiolucent. Certain manufacturers can supply “filler free” material making it an ultra high purity material so this is the type ideal for dental use. Also in the past ten years, there has been no indications of allergic reactions to the material.
Uses for PEEK in dental technology include abutments, fixed prosthetic frameworks and removable partial denture frameworks including precision attachments.