Novel surface tailoring of innovative dental zirconia implants for improved osseointegration and soft-tissue attachment 

The clinical longevity of dental implants largely depends on the osseointegration potential of the implant fixture and soft-tissue attachment to the abutment and crown (cervical part), both being highly influenced by surface chemistry and topography. The osseointegration potential of zirconia is currently suboptimal, since human clinical trials report peri-implant bone loss ending in more/earlier failures as compared to gold-standard titanium dental implants. Peri-implantitis persistently threats the clinical lifetime of dental implants, for which no effective remedy is today available. Yet, due to a lack of relevant 3D cell-culture models and long-term in-vivo studies, the nature of cell-zirconia surface interactions is insufficiently explored. We aim to address the knowledge gaps that exist between material design/manufacturing of zirconia and its final clinical application as dental implant. We will use an interdisciplinary research approach, researching novel own-developed damage-tolerant zirconia with multi-material 3D-print capability in combination with promising surface modifications. Plasma nano-coating will be used to biofunctionalize implant abutments/crowns in promotion of peri-implant soft-tissue sealing. Femtosecond laser micro-patterning and surface-feature integrated 3D-printing will be used to tailor uniform, hierarchical micro/nanoscale surface textures on implant fixtures in promotion of osseintegration. We will investigate biological responses to zirconia-implant fixture and abutment/crown surface modifications, correlating in-depth surface characterization with novel 3D cell culturing (soft/hard tissue organoid) and clinical experimentation in a minipig animal model. 

Duration : 01/10/2023 – 30/09/2027 

Financing : Industrieel Onderzoeksfonds ; C2-project 

People involved: Annabel Braem 

Partners: Department of Oral Health Sciences (KU Leuven), Department of Materials Engineering (KU Leuven), Department of Mechanical Engineering (KU Leuven)