Zirconia ceramics are a viable alternative to titanium for use as dental implants. However, the smooth surface of zirconia means that longer healing periods are needed to accomplish osseointegration compared to roughened titanium surfaces. Surface modifications can be used to increase the roughness of zirconia. The aim of this study was to assess histologically and compare the degree of early bone apposition around zirconia dental implants with sandblasted, sintered, or laser-modified surfaces to that seen around surface-modified titanium implants. Removal torque was also measured and compared.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Ninety-six implants--24 each of four types (sintered zirconia, laser-modified zirconia, sandblasted zirconia, and acid-etched titanium)--were placed in 48 New Zealand White female rabbits. One implant was inserted in each distal femur. Half of the specimens were harvested at 6 or 12 weeks and processed for light microscopic analysis; the area of bone-to-implant contact was measured morphometrically. The other half were evaluated for removal torque at 6 and 12 weeks.
No statistically significant differences existed in bone apposition between the different surfaces at either time point. Differences in removal torque were significantly different between titanium and sandblasted zirconia and between sintered zirconia and sandblasted zirconia, with the first mentioned demonstrating a higher torque value at 6 weeks. At 12 weeks, the only significant difference in removal torque was between titanium and sandblasted zirconia, with titanium demonstrating the higher value.
Comparable rates of bone apposition in the zirconia and titanium implant surfaces at 6 and 12 weeks of healing were observed. Removal torque values were similar for all implants with a roughened surface.