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Dental casting alloys


NPG, NPG + 2Aalba Dent Inc., 400 Watt

Drive, Cordelia, Calif. 94585, 1-800-227-1332,
Argenco 83, Argenco 77, Argenco 75, Argenco
68Argen Precious Metals, 5855 Oberlin Drive,
San Diego, Calif. 92121-4718, 1-800-255-5524,
Ney-Oro A-1, Ney-Oro B-2, Ney-Oro B-2G, NeyOro G-3Dentsply Ceramco, 6 Terri Lane,
Burlington, N.J. 08016, 1-800-487-0100, www.
Harmony Soft, Harmony Medium, Harmony
Hard, Harmony Extra-HardIvoclar Vivadent Inc.
Bendererstrasse 2, FL-9494, Schaan, Liechtenstein,
Modulay, Firmilay, Laboratory-33, Midas, Rajah,
Forticast, Jel-4, Jelenko No. 7, SturdicastJelenko
Dental Health Products, 99 Business Park Drive,
Armonk, N.Y. 10504, 1-800-431-1785,
Rx A, Rx B, Rx Jeneric IV, Rx Jeneric C, Rx
Midacast, Rx Ory, Rx C+Pentron Laboratory
Technologies, LLC, 53 North Plains Industrial
Road, Wallingford, Conn. 06492, 1-800-243-3969,
Sterngold S, Sterngold 1, Sterngold 2, Sterngold
B, Sterngold 3Sterngold ImplaMed, 23 Frank
Mossberg Drive, Attleboro, Mass. 02703, 1-800-2439942,
The Accepted casting alloys listed above were
submitted according to American National Standards Institute/American Dental Association, or
ANSI/ADA, Specification No. 5 for Dental Casting
Alloys.1 This specification classifies four types of
dental casting alloys according to hardness. Hardness increases with higher base-metal content.
dType I is the classification for low-strength castings that are subject to very slight stress (such as
dType II is the classification for medium-strength
castings that are subject to moderate stress (such as
inlays and onlays).
dType III is the classification for high-strength
castings that are subject to high stress (such as
onlays, thin cast backings, pontics, full crowns, saddles, thick-veneer crowns and short-span fixed partial dentures).
dType IV is the classification for extrahigh-

strength castings that are subject to very high

stress and thin cross section (such as saddles, bars,
clasps, thimbles, unit castings, thin-veneer crowns,
long-span fixed partial dentures and removable partial denture frameworks).

ANSI/ADA Specification No. 5 for Dental Casting

Alloys1 provides a classification of and specifies
requirements and test methods for dental casting
alloys used in the fabrication of dental restorations
and appliances. All Accepted casting alloys must
meet the requirements of this specification, which
are outlined below.

The composition of the alloy must be within 0.5 percent of the weight reported by the manufacturer or
0.1 percent of the weight if designated a hazardous
element by the National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health or the World Health Organization. Mechanical properties are evaluated by measuring yield strength (in megapascals), elongation
(percentage) and hardness. Annealed and hardened
samples are evaluated for yield strength and elongation. Hardness, identified by Vickers number,
must be within 10 percent of the value designated
by the manufacturer. Physical properties are determined by the melting range, which must be within
20 C of that specified by the manufacturer. The
casting temperature and color also must be
Alloys must demonstrate biocompatibility by conducting toxicity testing according to ANSI/ADA document no. 41, which describes recommended standard practices for biological evaluation of dental
materials.2 This testing requirements include cytotoxicity testing that evaluates cell death in L929 or
HeLa cell cultures exposed to the alloy, hemolysis
testing in rabbit blood and mutagenicity testing
conducted according to the Ames test.
Corrosion testing must be completed for new
alloys by comparing their performance to alloys that
have been in use successfully for at least five years.
The corrosion test is a static immersion test that is
performed by immersing samples in an acidic solution at 37 C for seven days. The sample is removed
and the residual solution is analyzed for metal ion
release. Additionally, testing must be conducted to
determine the potential of the alloy to tarnish. Tarnish testing is a cyclic immersion test conducted
using a solution of sodium sulfide hydrate. The
sample is dipped in the test solution for 10 to 15

The Dental Product Spotlight appears in JADA each month to help dentists stay current on new products entering the marketplace
and receiving the ADA Seal of Acceptance. These reports are prepared by the ADA Division of Science, in cooperation with The
Journal of the American Dental Association. All rights reserved.


JADA, Vol. 133, June 2002

Copyright 2002 American Dental Association. All rights reserved.


seconds every minute. The alloy samples then are

visually analyzed with regard to color, reflectivity
and roughness.
Both the manufacturer and the ADA laboratory
conduct testing according to specification no. 5 for
ADA Acceptance.


restorations and frameworks for fixed and removable partial dentures. These alloys also can be used
for restoration posts and cores and for splints.
1. American National Standards Institute/American Dental Association. Specification no. 5 for dental casting alloys. Chicago: American
Dental Association; 1998.
2. American National Standards Institute/American Dental Association. Biological evaluation of dental materials. ANSI/ADA document 41
and 41a. New York: American National Standards Institute; 2001.

Casting alloys are used for inlays of all classes, as

well as for individual partial- and full-coverage

Biocompatibility of
dental alloys

n the early years of the ADA Acceptance program, composition was considered to be one of
the most important aspects when considering
the acceptability of a casting alloy for dental
applications. At that time, most dental alloy
compositions were based on gold, which is known to
be extremely resistant to corrosion, as discussed
below. However, advances in biomaterials research
over the past 20 years, and the increase in the price
of gold in the early 1980s, led to diversification of
the elements used in dental alloys, so that typical
alloys are now based on gold, palladium, silver,
nickel, cobalt or titanium.1,2 Because of the variety
of alloys available, it is not practical to base standards on alloy composition, and, therefore, there has
been a national and international movement toward
the establishment of standards that use performance as the criterion for evaluating alloys used in
dental applications. An important step in moving
toward a more performance-based standard for
dental alloys was to remove the composition
requirements and make the classification system
more clinically relevant. As mentioned in the Dental
Product Spotlight on page 758, the current classification system for dental casting alloys is broken
down into Types I through IV based on the alloys
mechanical and physical properties.
Before an alloy can be classified according to its
mechanical and physical properties, however, it first
must be evaluated for its reactivity in the oral
cavity, which is governed by thermodynamic principles and electrochemical reaction kinetics. This
means that when an alloy is placed in the oral
cavity, the alloy-saliva system will be driven toward
a state of equilibrium (thermodynamic equilibrium).
At equilibrium, the alloy either will remain stable in
its elemental form or oxidize into its ionic form.

High-noble alloys (gold, platinum and palladium)

are stable in their elemental form. On the other
hand, most base metal alloys, such as titanium and
cobalt-chrome, are stable in the oral environment as
a result of passive oxide layers that cover their surface. These oxide layers act as a corrosion barrier.
The potential for corrosion is important in the biocompatibility of an alloy. Corrosion can produce ionized elements that interact with biological tissues.
Therefore, corrosion increases the risk of toxicity,
making it desirable to balance corrosion against
clinical performance when choosing an alloy.
Alloys used in dentistry usually contain at least
four metals and often more, making the issue of biocompatibility complex. Elements making up an
alloy are not necessarily released in proportion to
their percent weight; other factors can influence
how much of a particular element is released.1 For
example, the structure of an alloy may be singlephase (homogeneous) or multiphase (heterogeneous). This phase structure can be important to
the corrosive properties of an alloy. Other factors
found to affect corrosion are pH and the presence of
proteins. For example, nickel is released from
nickel-chromium alloys to a much greater extent in
an acidic environment,3 and the presence of proteins
in saline was found to enhance the release of silver,
copper, palladium and zinc compared with a saline
solution alone (the opposite was found for nickel).4
To select the most biocompatible alloy, dentists
should familiarize themselves with the corrosion
properties of the alloys they use and should consider use of high-noble and single-phase noble
alloys that generally are the most biocompatible.
1. Wataha JC. Biocompatibility of dental casting alloys: a review. J
Prosthet Dent 2000;83:223-34.
2. Leinfelder KF. An evaluation of casting alloys used for restorative
procedures. JADA 1997;128:37-45.
3. Brune D. Metal release from dental biomaterials. Biomaterials
4. Wataha JC, Nelson SK, Lockwood PE. Elemental release from
dental casting alloys into biological media with and without protein.
Dent Mater 2001;17:409-14.

JADA, Vol. 133, June 2002

Copyright 2002 American Dental Association. All rights reserved.