The successful use of zirconia ceramics in orthopedic surgery led to a demand for dental zirconium-based implant systems. Because of its excellent biomechanical characteristics, biocompatibility, and bright tooth-like color, zirconia (zirconium dioxide, ZrO2) has the potential to become a substitute for titanium as dental implant material. The present study aimed at investigating the osseointegration of zirconia implants with modified ablative surface at an ultrastructural level.
A total of 24 zirconia implants with modified ablative surfaces and 24 titanium implants all of similar shape and surface structure were inserted into the tibia of 12 Göttinger minipigs. Block biopsies were harvested 1 week, 4 weeks or 12 weeks (four animals each) after surgery. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis was performed at the bone implant interface.
Remarkable bone attachment was already seen after 1 week which increased further to intimate bone contact after 4 weeks, observed on both zirconia and titanium implant surfaces. After 12 weeks, osseointegration without interposition of an interfacial layer was detected. At the ultrastructural level, there was no obvious difference between the osseointegration of zirconia implants with modified ablative surfaces and titanium implants with a similar surface topography.
The results of this study indicate similar osseointegration of zirconia and titanium implants at the ultrastructural level.