Inhibition of bacterial growth on zirconia abutment with a helium cold atmospheric plasma jet treatment

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This study presents a surface modification method to treat the zirconia implant abutment materials using a helium cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) jet in order to evaluate its efficacy on oral bacteria adhesion and growth.

Materials and methods

Yttrium-Stabilized Zirconia disks were subjected to helium CAP treatment; after the treatment, zirconia surface was evaluated using scanning electron microscopy, a contact angle measuring device, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy for surface characteristics. The response of Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis on treated surface was evaluated by a scanning electron microscopy, MTT assay, and LIVE/DEAD staining. The biofilm formation was analyzed using a crystal violet assay.


After the helium CAP jet treatment, the zirconia surface chemistry has been changed while the surface topography remains unchanged, the bacterial growth was inhibited, and the biofilm forming decreased. As the treatment time increases, the zirconia abutment showed a better bacterial inhibition efficacy.


The helium CAP jet surface modification approach can eliminate bacterial growth on zirconia surface with surface chemistry change, while surface topography remained.

Clinical relevance

Soft tissue seal around dental implant abutment plays a crucial role in maintaining long-term success. However, it is weaker than periodontal barriers and vulnerable to bacterial invasion. CAP has a potential prospect for improving soft tissue seal around the zirconia abutment, therefore providing better esthetics and most of all, prevent peri-implant lesions from happening.

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The authors also thank Dr. Ming-Yue Liu and Dr. Zhen Yang for their support in bacterial culture and bacterial inhibition assays and Dr. Xiao-Ming Zhu for her support in CAP jet analysis. We also thank Dr. Hong Xie for language and grammar review.

Funding information

The work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81801013 and No. 81701003).

Author information

All the authors contributed to the study conception and design. The interdisciplinary collaborations between dentistry and engineering physics requires authors from different institutions work together. The experimental protocol was provided by He-Ping Li and Jian-Guo Tan. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis regarding dentistry field were performed by Yang Yang1, Miao Zheng, and Yang Yang3. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis regarding engineering physics field were performed by Jing Li and Yong-Fei Su. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Yang Yang1 and Miao Zheng, and all the authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Correspondence to He-Ping Li or Jian-Guo Tan.

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Cite this article

Yang, Y., Zheng, M., Yang, Y. et al. Inhibition of bacterial growth on zirconia abutment with a helium cold atmospheric plasma jet treatment. Clin Oral Invest (2020) doi:10.1007/s00784-019-03179-2

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  • Zirconia
  • Surface modification
  • Cold atmospheric plasma
  • Bacterial inhibition
  • Implant interface