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R&D Corner: Which Custom Abutment and Why?

Which Custom Abutment and Why? - Dental CE Course
Launch Course

Course Objectives (2 CE Credits)

Grant Bullis, Director of Implant R&D and Digital Manufacturing

Digital design and manufacturing technologies allow for the production of custom abutments that offer several esthetic and functional advantages for implant restorations. Custom implant abutments are produced primarily with titanium and zirconia, and both materials have distinct advantages depending on the case being restored.

Glidewell Laboratories Director of Implant R&D and Digital Manufacturing Grant Bullis summarizes the benefits offered by both materials, discussing the parameters that clinicians should consider when selecting the appropriate type of custom abutment for an implant case. Topics include:

  • The three primary configurations of custom abutments
  • The basic characteristics of titanium and zirconia abutment materials
  • Where in the mouth different types of abutments are most commonly prescribed
  • Choosing an abutment material based on the location of the implant restoration
  • The esthetic and functional benefits of titanium and zirconia abutments
  • The effect of titanium and zirconia on esthetic outcomes in the anterior maxilla


There are many prosthetic considerations that a clinician should weigh when choosing an abutment material for an implant restoration. Although zirconia and titanium both offer strength and versatility, each material offers unique benefits depending on the circumstances of the implant restoration. A clear understanding of these differences and advantages will help clinicians select the best type of custom abutment for each individual case.

CAUTION: When viewing the techniques, procedures, theories and materials that are presented, you must make your own decisions about specific treatment for patients and exercise personal professional judgment regarding the need for further clinical testing or education and your own clinical expertise before trying to implement new procedures.


  1. Christensen GJ. Implant Abutment Material Choices. Clinicians Report. Jan 2013;6(1).
  2. Rasperini G, Maglione M, Cocconcelli P, Simion M. In vivo early plaque formation on pure titanium and ceramic abutments: a comparative microbiological and SEM analysis. Clin Oral Implants Res. 1998 Dec;9(6):357-64.
  3. Rimondini L, Cerroni L, Carrassi A, Torricelli P. Bacterial colonization of zirconia ceramic surfaces: an in vitro and in vivo study. Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants. 2002 Nov-Dec;17(6):793-8.
  4. Zembic A, Sailer I, Jung RE, Hämmerle CH. Randomized-controlled clinical trial of customized zirconia and titanium implant abutments for single-tooth implants in canine and posterior regions: 3-year results. Clin Oral Implants Res. 2009 Aug;20(8):802-8.
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