Optical Efficacy of Titanium Nitride-Coated Abutment Material on Soft Tissue Discoloration: A Spectrophotometric In Vitro Analysis

Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants. Jul-Aug 2021;36(4):e91-e96. doi: 10.11607/jomi.8537.


Purpose: The objective of this investigation was to assess the extent of mucosal discoloration caused by different CAD/CAM abutment materials and to determine the influence of mucosa thickness on the subsequent color, with a particular focus on titanium nitride.

Materials and methods: In a pig maxilla, a trapdoor-shaped mucosa flap was prepared unilaterally. Several CAD/CAM abutment materials were used to assess a number of clinical scenarios. Varying mucosa thicknesses were simulated by connective tissue grafts harvested at the contralateral side of the palate, resulting in layer thicknesses of 1.5, 2, and 3 mm. Titanium (Ti), zirconia (ZrO2), and titanium nitride (TiN) served as test specimens with and without ceramic veneering. Color differences (ΔE) and deviations in brightness (L), chroma (C), and hue (H) were determined spectrophotometrically, comparing the measured value of the native tissue and the results obtained with different materials at varying mucosa thicknesses.

Results: All tested specimens caused a mucosa discoloration in comparison to the native tissue, diminishing with increasing mucosa thickness. The use of TiN demonstrated the least mucosa discoloration in thin soft tissue of 1.5 mm, with a mean ΔE value of 1.93 (P = .004). While ZrO2 revealed a comparable ΔE value of 2.13 (P = .022) at a tissue thickness of 1.5 mm, Ti showed the highest mucosa discoloration above the visibility threshold of ΔE = 3.1, with a mean ΔE value of 4.07 (P = .002). Ceramic veneering of the Ti samples led to a considerable reduction in soft tissue discoloration, with a resulting ΔE value of 2.2. The veneering of TiN and ZrO2 samples with porcelain, on the other hand, had no noticeable effect on the mucosa color.

Conclusion: CAD/CAM abutment materials cause an adverse soft tissue color shift that decreases with increasing mucosa thickness. In thin peri-implant mucosa, titanium nitride and zirconia lead to the least discoloration. Due to their positive optical properties and mechanical superiority compared with ceramic abutments, gold-hue titanium nitride-coated CAD/CAM abutments could be a clinical alternative in cases of thin peri-implant mucosa.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Color
  • Dental Abutments
  • Dental Implants, Single-Tooth*
  • Dental Porcelain
  • Humans
  • Swine
  • Titanium*
  • Zirconium


  • Dental Porcelain
  • titanium nitride
  • Zirconium
  • Titanium