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Ceramic Applications in Medicine
Ceramics are becoming increasingly useful to the medical world. Surgeons are using bioceramic materials for repair and replacement of human hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, fingers and wrists. Ceramics also are being used to replace diseased heart valves. Dentists are using ceramics for tooth replacement implants and braces. A new ceramic containing fluorapatite and small particles of glass is being used to replace teeth. This ceramic material has the aesthetic look of a natural tooth and causes less wear to opposing teeth than other available materials. Research is even being done on a "ceramic" based gum which is thought to retard the growth of plaque.
When used in the human body as implants or even as coatings to metal replacements, ceramic materials can stimulate bone growth, promote tissue formation and provide protection from the immune system. Glass microspheres smaller than a human hair are being used to deliver large, localized amounts of radiation to diseased organs in the body. Ceramics are one of the few materials that are durable and stable enough to withstand the corrosive effect of bodily fluids.
Ceramics are also being used by surgeons in the form of ceramic coated scissors. The ceramic coating makes the surface hardness four to five times greater than that of stainless steel. The ceramic surface also provides higher sliding capacity to reduce abrasion, and optimizes resistance to rust and corrosion.
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