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Volume 27 , Issue 4
July/August 2012

Pages 785-791

Zirconia Implant Abutments: Microstructural Analysis

Cristina Vaquero-Aguilar, PhS/Manuel Jiménez-Melendo, PhD/Daniel Torres-Lagares, DDS, PhD/Oriol Llena-Blasco, DMD/August Bruguera, DT/Jaime Llena-Blasco, DMD/Manuel García-Calderón, DMD, PhD/Rocío Velázquez-Cayón, DDS, PhS/José-Luis Gutiérrez-Pérez, DMD, PhD

PMID: 22848879

Purpose: Yttria-stabilized zirconia (ZrO2–Y2O3) ceramics have received increasing attention in recent years because of their stress-induced tetragonal-to-monoclinic (martensitic) transformation. This unique process acts as a toughening mechanism, imparting strength and toughness to the ceramic alloy. This property, along with well-documented biocompatibility, is now being exploited in an increasing number of medical applications, including implant dentistry. To prevent clinical problems and predict their behavior and physical limitations, a characterization of the ceramic elements used in dental restorations is essential. The aim of the present study is to characterize the crystal structure, elemental composition, and micr ostructure of asreceived ZiReal Post (Biomet 3i) zirconium oxide abutments, as well as specimens coated with a first layer of a low-fusing fluoroapatite ceramic. Materials and Methods: Zirconium oxide abutments, both as-received and porcelain-coated, were studied using the following techniques: x-ray diffraction, x-ray fluorescence, energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, optical microscopy, and scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Results: X-ray analyses detected only the presence of Zr, O, Y, and hafnium (Hf), in an amount of 3% to 4% molecular weight Y2O3–ZrO2. X-ray diffraction measurements showed that the ceramic abutment crystallizes mainly in the tetragonal phase, with some residual monoclinic phase. The microstructure is characterized by a rather homogenous grain distribution, formed by equiaxed and fine grains with a mean size of 0.30 μm. Conclusions: Compositional and diffraction results are consistent with polycrystalline yttria-stabilized tetragonal zirconia. The material is susceptible to undergoing the stress-induced transformation toughening mechanism because of the very fine grain size. Except for machining ring marks, the surfaces exhibit an excellent finishing quality. No structural modifications were observed in the fluoroapatite ceramic-coated abutments because of the relatively low temperatures used for ceramization compared with the phasetransformation temperatures used for zirconia. Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants 2012;27:785–791.

Key words: ceramics, dental implants, microstructure, zirconia

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