Purpose: Titanium-zirconium (Ti-Zr) alloy has been developed to strengthen the implant body, but clinically relevant information is still limited. The aim of this in vitro study was to compare the rotational load fatigue performance of implant-abutment connections in narrow-diameter (3.3-mm) and regular-diameter (4.1-mm) implants made with commercially pure grade 4 titanium alloy (CPTi-G4) and Ti-Zr.
Keywords: implant fracture, implant-abutment connection, load fatigue, narrow diameter implant, titanium-zirconium
Materials and methods: Narrow-diameter (N) and regular-diameter (R) implants with CPTi-G4 (Ti) or Ti-Zr (Tz) materials were tested. This resulted in four test groups: NTi, NTz, RTi and RTz. Five specimens were made for each group (n = 5). Abutments used were milled from titanium-aluminum-niobium alloy abutment blanks. A rotational load fatigue machine applied a sinusoidally varying load at an angle of 45 degrees to produce an effective bending moment of 35 Ncm at a frequency of 14 Hz in air at 20°C. The number of cycles to failure was recorded. The upper limit was set as 5 million cycles. Results were evaluated using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Tukey post hoc tests. Failure locations and patterns were evaluated with scanning electron microscope (SEM).
Results: All regular-diameter test groups reached the upper limit of 5 million cycles without failure. All narrow-diameter test groups failed within the range of 402,530 cycles to 3,374,353 cycles. It could be observed that NTz showed a higher mean cycle count as compared to NTi. NTi test group recorded two implants damaged, one implant fracture, five abutment fractures, and four screw fractures. NTz test group showed only abutment fractures at the level of implant platform, with no damage to the implant bodies. Significant difference was found between implants of different diameters. There was no significant difference between implants of different materials.
Conclusion: Regular-diameter implants performed significantly better than narrow-diameter implants, regardless of material, while no significant difference in cyclic load to failure was found between groups of different alloys. All NTz failures were at the abutment only, without damage to the implant. This failure pattern can potentially be clinically advantageous in terms of retrieval and subsequent replacement of a failed prosthesis.