The influence of titanium abutment surface roughness on plaque accumulation and gingivitis: short-term observations

Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants. Mar-Apr 1996;11(2):169-78.


The roughness of intraoral hard surfaces plays an important role in bacterial adhesion and colonization. Earlier studies have shown that rough surfaces accumulate up to 25 times more subgingival plaque than do smooth sites. In the present study, the influence of surface smoothing was studied. In six partially edentulous patients waiting for a fixed prosthesis supported by endosseous titanium implants, four titanium abutments with different surface roughness were randomly placed. After 1 month of intraoral exposure, subgingival plaque samples from each abutment were compared within each patient by means of differential phase-contrast microscopy. After 3 months, supragingival and subgingival plaque samples were taken from all abutments for differential phase-contrast microscopy and culturing. Probing depth, recession, and bleeding upon probing were scored at the same visit. Differential phase-contrast microscopy showed that subgingivally, only the two roughest abutments harbored spirochetes after 1 month. After 3 months, subgingivally, the composition of the flora showed little variation on the different abutment types, although spirochetes were only noticed around the roughest abutments. Anaerobic culturing resulted in comparable amounts of colony-forming units for all abutment types, both supragingivally and subgingivally. Subgingivally, the microbiologic composition did not show major interabutment differences. Clinically, small differences in probing depth were observed. The roughest abutment showed some attachment gain (0.2 mm) during 3 months, whereas all other abutments had an attachment loss ranging from 0.8 to greater than 1 mm. The results indicate that a reduction in surface roughness (less than a roughness of 0.2 micron) had no major effect on the microbiologic composition, supragingivally or subgingivally. These observations indicate the existence of a threshold roughness below which no further impact on the bacterial adhesion and/or colonization should be expected. However, clinical evaluation seems to indicate that a certain surface roughness is necessary for increased resistance to clinical probing.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / isolation & purification
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Dental Abutments*
  • Dental Implantation, Endosseous
  • Dental Implants
  • Dental Plaque / etiology*
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology
  • Dental Prosthesis, Implant-Supported
  • Female
  • Gingival Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Gingival Hemorrhage / microbiology
  • Gingival Pocket / etiology
  • Gingival Pocket / microbiology
  • Gingival Recession / etiology
  • Gingival Recession / microbiology
  • Gingivitis / etiology*
  • Gingivitis / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast
  • Middle Aged
  • Periodontal Attachment Loss / etiology
  • Spirochaetales / isolation & purification
  • Surface Properties
  • Titanium / chemistry*


  • Dental Implants
  • Titanium