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Dental Alloys

Justin Jones, BSc.


Metals & alloys are crystalline solids Alloys consist of two or more mutually soluble metals when molten Grain size is the size of the crystals in the solid state Small grain size gives better materials

Some Science

Small grain size can be achieved by:

Rapid cooling Addition of a grain refiner (iridium)

Upon cooling: the grain refiner solidifies first, forming nucleation sites from which the crystals (grains) grow
Giving smaller grains with a more uniform size

Material Requirements

Yield strength: stress (force) required to cause permanent strain (change of shape) Hardness: resistance to wear Corrosion: resistance to chemical attack Thermal conductivity Adhesion: to tissue / other materials Chemical: corrosion Biological: biocompatibilty
Enamel = 350 VHN (Vickers) Dentin = 60 VHN > 300 MPa for oral use


Traditional classification:
1. Gold-based alloys 2. Metal-ceramic alloys 3. Alloys for removable partial dentures

New classification:
1. High-nobel alloys 2. Nobel alloys 3. Base metal alloys

Traditional Classification of Gold-based Alloys

Types I-IV based on composition

Type Au (%) 85 Ag (%) 11 Cu (%) 3 Pd/Pt (%) 0 Use Low stress - inlays Yield Str. (MPa) <140 Elongatio n (%) 18

I Soft

II Medium




Moderate stress inlays, onlays High stress crowns, short-span bridges Very high stress thin crowns, long-span bridges, RPDs

140 - 200


III Hard IV Extra hard

70 65

14 13

10 15

5 6

201 - 340 >340

12 10

Gold & silver: ductility, corrosion resistance Copper: hardness Platinum: strength, hardness, corrosion Zinc: prevents oxidation, improved casting

Metal-Ceramic Alloys for Porcelain Bonding

Used with ceramic component Different to gold alloys:

Higher melting temp (more Pd) for ceramic application Little/no Ag discolouration Little/no Cu firing

Several types:
High-gold (75%) Low-gold (45%) Silver-copper Silver-palladium Cobalt-based Nickel-based

Alloys for Removable Partial Dentures

Types used:

Type IV gold-based alloy Chromium-based alloys Cobalt-based alloys

Advantages of Co/Cr-based alloys over the Type IV gold:

Stronger Harder Less dense cheaper More rigid make thinner castings


High casting temp Too hard finishing and polishing Low ductility chairside adjustment

New Classification

Todays system is based on composition

Type Composition Gold content > 40 wt% and Noble metal content > 60 wt%
Noble metal content > 25 wt% Noble metal content < 25 wt%


Noble Primarily base-metal

High-Noble Alloys
Gold > 40%, Nobel > 60%

1. Gold-platinum

(85% Au, 12% Pd)

Full-cast and metal-ceramic applications

(52% Au, 38% Pd)

2. Gold-palladium

Full-cast and metal-ceramic applications

3. Gold-copper-silver-palladium

Low melting temp Ag turns porcelain green

Full-cast only

Noble Alloys

Noble metal > 25% Diverse group of materials Generally speaking:

High strength, hardness & ductility Yellow or white (white due to Pd) Variable resistance to corrosion

Used for full-cast and metal ceramic applications

With the exception of gold-copper-silverpalladium alloys

Base-Metal Alloys
Noble metal < 25%
But usually contain little or none

Nickle-chromium or Colbalt-chromium alloys

Applications: Full-cast, metal-ceramic and RPDs Advantages:

Harder Stronger High elastic modulus can be made thinner Cheaper Difficult to cast high temperatures Shrinkage (2.3%) must be compensated Finishing & polishing difficult Corrosion Allergy