Effect of plastic-covered ultrasonic scalers on titanium implant surfaces

Clin Oral Implants Res. 2012 Jan;23(1):76-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0501.2011.02186.x. Epub 2011 Apr 13.


Objectives: Maintaining oral health around titanium implants is essential. The formation of a biofilm on the titanium surface will influence the continuing success of the implant. These concerns have led to modified ultrasonic scaler instruments that look to reduce implant damage while maximising the cleaning effect. This study aimed to assess the effect of instrumentation, with traditional and modified ultrasonic scalers, on titanium implant surfaces and to correlate this with the oscillations of the instruments.

Materials and methods: Two ultrasonic insert designs (metallic TFI-10 and a plastic-tipped implant insert) were selected. Each scaler probe was scanned using a scanning laser vibrometer, under loaded and unloaded conditions, to determine their oscillation characteristics. Loads were applied against a titanium implant (100g and 200 g) for 10 s. The resulting implant surfaces were then scanned using laser profilometry and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).

Results: Insert probes oscillated with an elliptical motion with the maximum amplitude at the probe tip. Laser profilometry detected defects in the titanium surface only for the metallic scaler insert. Defect widths at 200 g high power were significantly larger than all other load/power conditions (P<0.02). Using SEM, it was observed that modifications to the implant surface had occurred following instrumentation with the plastic-tipped insert. Debris was also visible around the defects.

Conclusions: Metal scalers produce defects in titanium implant surfaces and load and power are important factors in the damage caused. Plastic-coated scaler probes cause minimal damage to implant surfaces and have a polishing action but can leave plastic deposits behind on the implant surface.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dental Implants*
  • Dental Scaling / instrumentation*
  • Lasers
  • Materials Testing
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Plastics / chemistry
  • Surface Properties
  • Titanium / chemistry*
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Vibration


  • Dental Implants
  • Plastics
  • Titanium