Ultrastructural changes of smooth and rough titanium implant surfaces induced by metal and plastic periodontal probes



To determine the ultrastructural changes of titanium surfaces of dental implants induced by the tip of periodontal probes.

Materials and methods

A total of 40 samples of smooth and rough surfaces of titanium implants were randomly assigned for the treatment with metal or plastic periodontal probes under application angles of 20° and 60°. Titanium surfaces have been evaluated with CLSM prior and following to experimental probing determining various standardized 2D and 3D roughness parameters.


The average profile and surface roughness (Ra and Sa) showed no significant difference between treated and untreated samples on smooth and rough surface areas irrespective of the probe material. On smooth surfaces several amplitude roughness parameters were increased with metal probes but reached significance only for Rp (p = 0.007). Rough surface parts showed a slight but not significant reduction of roughness following to the contact with metal probes. The surface roughness remained almost unchanged on smooth and rough implant surfaces using plastic probes. The surface roughness on implant surfaces was not dependent on the application angle irrespective of the probe material.


Probing of titanium implants with metal probes and even less with plastic probes causes only minor changes of the surface roughness. The clinical significance of these changes remains to be elucidated.

Clinical relevance

Using plastic probes for the clinical evaluation of the peri-implant sulcus might avoid ultrastructural changes to titanium implant surfaces.

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This article contains parts of the master thesis of Madlena Betthäuser.


The microscopic analysis described in this work was supported by Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH, Oberkochen (Germany).

Author information




Design and conduction of study: MF and MB; substantial contributions to the collection of data: MF and MB; microscopic measurement: MB and TR; substantial contributions to statistical analysis of data: MF, MB, and IF; preparation of draft and revised manuscript: MF, MB, TR, and IF; final approval of the version to be published: MF, MB, TR, and IF.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matthias Folwaczny.

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The authors received non-financial support from Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH, Oberkochen (Germany). The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest related to this study.

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Iris Frasheri and Madlena Betthäuser contributed equally to this work as joint senior authors.

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Folwaczny, M., Rudolf, T., Frasheri, I. et al. Ultrastructural changes of smooth and rough titanium implant surfaces induced by metal and plastic periodontal probes. Clin Oral Invest 25, 105–114 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00784-020-03341-1

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  • Topography
  • Ultrastructure
  • Confocal
  • Implant
  • Probing