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Implant-Supported Restoration Techniques

Gregg A. Helvey, DDS, MAGD, CDT

April 2019 RN - Expires Sunday, December 31st, 2023

Inside Dental Technology


Many factors figure into the long-term success of an implant-supported restoration. While some are uncontrollable, others are manageable. The cement-retained implant-supported restoration is easier to fabricate, while the screw-retained implant-supported restoration involves more complicated, time-consuming laboratory procedures. Most research has found the screw-retained restoration has fewer complications than the cement-retained counterpart. This article describes a simple, low-cost technique of converting a cement-retained implant crown to a screw-retained implant crown, which allows for easy retrievability and eliminates a number of laboratory steps and costs.

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Several factors involved in the success of an implant-supported restoration include the biocompatibility of the implant fixture and the type of surrounding bone, the design of the occlusion, and retention of the restoration.1 The connection between the restoration and implant is accomplished either by cementation, screw retention, or a combination of both.2 Cost, accessibility, esthetics, occlusion, and ease of fabrication are factors to consider when determining the type of retention to use.3 The cement-retained implant-supported restoration is easier to fabricate than a screw-retained restoration because conventional crown-and-bridge laboratory techniques are employed.4 The screw-retained implant-supported restoration involves more complicated, time-consuming laboratory procedures and, therefore, is more costly.5 The success rates between the two types of retention have been evaluated in several studies.6-10 Most of these studies have found the screw-retained restoration has had more complications than their cement-retained counterparts, but they are usually minimal.3

Problems With Cement-Retained Implant-Supported Crowns

A cement-induced peri-implantitis associated with cement-retained restorations has been reported.11 This so-called cementitis is accompanied by an unfavorable loss of marginal bone and represents a common problem associated with cement-retained implant supported restorations.12 The gingival response has always been the most favorable when no cement was used.3 A number of methods have been purposed for preventing the presence of excess cement at the restoration/abutment interface, but they too have their risks.

One other factor that must be considered when deciding on the method of retention is retrievability.13 Having access to the fixation screw that retains the abutment is important. For a number of reasons, abutment retentive screws can loosen, which mandates the separation of the restoration from the abutment to tighten this screw; therefore, the use of a provisional type of cement provides retrievability.14 However, in situations in which the vertical height of the abutment is less than 5 mm, which is required for retention and resistance form,15 a provisional type of cement may not afford sufficient retention and a more permanent type of cement must be utilized. The use of permanent cement then decreases the predictability of retrieval.

Implant-Supported Crown Restorative Material

As previously mentioned, the successful long-term survival of dental implants is multifactorial. A number of authors have considered occlusal load to be a viable factor in the success of a dental implant.16-18 In a natural-tooth scenario, there is a semi-elastic, indirect connection between the tooth and surrounding alveolar bone, whereas, in the implant scenario, a rigid and direct connection exists between the implant fixture and surrounding alveolar bone. The periodontal ligament acts as a shock absorber for occlusal forces,19,20 which is not present with implants. The direct transmission of occlusal forces can have an adverse effect on the implant and peri-implant bone.21,22 However, the relationship of occlusal trauma and peri-implant bone loss remains controversial.23

Defining Occlusal Overload

The actual amount of force that would constitute an "overloading force" has never been quantified. Duyck and Vandamme24 conducted a literature review regarding the effect of occlusal overload. They observed these studies shared a lack of an assigned quantitative number to describe occlusal forces considered to be in excess of a normal load. Menini et al25 suggested the difficulty in defining a force to be considered excessive, or "overloading," is because of the variability in the adaptability of the host physiologic response. They suggested overload can be considered as the amount of force that supersedes the adaptability potential of the host. In other words, it is difficult to quantify occlusal overload.

Restorative Materials and Transmission of Occlusal Forces

Occlusal forces are transmitted to the implant fixture through a rigid connection of the affixed restoration. The question remains as to how much of a role the restorative material plays in the amount of force transmission. Numerous studies in the last 20 years have repudiated the existence of the "shock absorbing" ability of resilient restoratives.26-31 However, Menini et al25 investigated how different restorative materials affected stress transmission on simulated peri-implant bone. They found materials with a lower elastic modulus (less rigidity) recorded less stress. Bijjargi and Chowdhary32 used a 2-dimensional finite element model of a dental implant/abutment/crown assembly to measure stress dissipation from full-monolithic crowns made of zirconia, all-ceramic, metal, composite, and acrylic materials. They concluded that the crown material with the lowest elastic modulus dampened the occlusal impact force the most while the zirconia exhibited the highest stress value.

Because the cause and effect of unquantified occlusal trauma or load is debatable, the author believes that a material with a lower elastic modulus should be used for implant-supported restorations, provided the esthetic demand is achieved. However, in the anterior region, where the planned implant restoration is adjacent to all-ceramic restored teeth, it may be necessary to use the same restorative ceramic material with matching refractive indices to achieve an esthetic match.33

Low-Elastic-Modulus CAD/CAM Restoratives

Several low-elastic-modulus CAD/CAM material options are available and can be divided into two categories depending on their microstructure: composites with dispersed fibers and polymer-infiltrated-ceramic-network (PICN) materials. PICN material differs from other restoratives in which the filler material is in the form of dispersed or aggregated particles.33 The internal arrangement of PICN is a 3-dimensional interconnected skeleton,34 which is able to evenly distribute stress more effectively, thereby resisting crack propagation.35

The PICN CAD/CAM material has an elastic modulus closer to dentin than ceramics.36 For example, the elasticity (lower modulus) of VITA ENAMIC (VITA, is a result of the organic polymer matrix, which is 14% by weight. The strength and stability of the millable material are derived from the inorganic ceramic network, which is 86% by weight.37 An internal study by the manufacturer found the product's fracture load (2890 ± 232 N) was greater when compared with lithium disilicate CAD (2576 ± 206 N). Swain et al38 determined the lower-elastic-modulus materials were more damage tolerant than present glass-ceramic materials. In chewing simulations, they found the PICN crowns appeared to be more resistant to sliding/impact-induced cracking.

A clinical advantage for using PICN material for implant-supported crowns is the ability to add composite material post-milling. It is sometimes necessary to increase the interproximal contacts or, as in the following technique, adding composite to the undersurface of the restoration. This is not possible with a zirconia-based restoration. To improve the bonding surface of the PICN material, the manufacturer recommends 5% hydrofluoric-acid etching for 60 seconds instead of using air abrasion. The acid will dissolve the ceramic phase of the material that results in a "honeycomb" structure formed by the remaining resin network. The etched surface has high micromechanical interlocking potential for the addition of resin composite.33

Cement- and Screw-Retention Methodologies

The following technique describes a combination of both cement-retained and screw-retained methods of implant-supported restorations. This procedure can be used whether the restoration is fabricated in the laboratory or chairside employing CAD/CAM technology. The choice of restorative material is important when utilizing this cement-screw retention technique. Essentially, the restoration is permanently cemented to the abutment but can be retrieved by access to the retaining screw through a hole that was created during the fabrication of the restoration.

To begin, the implant fixture is uncovered, preferably with the use of a diode laser. A stock abutment that can be prepared is placed onto the implant fixture. A radiographic scan is taken to confirm the complete seating of the abutment. The necessary occlusal clearance, which is restorative material dependent, is marked with a notch. The interproximal clearances between the adjacent teeth are also evaluated and marked if any alteration is necessary. The abutment is then removed and modified where indicated. Once the spatial requirements are completed, cement retention undercuts are placed on the abutment. Using a carborundum disk or a No. 330 carbide bur, a circumferential undercut, 0.25 mm to 0.50 mm in depth, is placed toward the shoulder platform on the abutment (apical), and then another undercut is made
1 mm to 2 mm coronal to the first one (Figure 1). Depending on the implant system, sometimes the carrier, which holds the implant during the surgical step, can be used in lieu of purchasing a separate abutment. If the retentive undercuts result in loss of color and undesirable esthetics, color correction can be done at this stage.

Scanning/Impression Step

The altered, color-corrected abutment is then placed onto the implant fixture and torqued to the implant manufacturer's recommendation. From an occlusal view, any gingival tissue that obstructs the margin of the abutment must be removed, preferably with the use of a diode laser. Placing block-out material into the screw-access hole of the abutment is not advised. Whether a CAD/CAM chairside system is used or a traditional impression technique is employed, leaving the screw-access hole open on the abutment will create a positive mark on the undersurface of the milled crown (Figure 2 and Figure 3). This will aid in the precise placement of the screw-access hole. The steps in fabricating a CAD/CAM crown can be completed. The milled crown is then tried in to verify the fit and occlusion. Once verified, the crown can be either be cemented onto the abutment or finished, stained, and glazed before cementation.

Crown Stain and Glazing Prior to Cementation

Once the occlusion has been verified and screw-access hole has been machined, the crown can now be stained and glazed. To avoid any contaminants from human contact with the crown during the following procedure, it is preferred to use a laboratory crown holder. The crown surface is conditioned first, preferably by the application of 5% hydrofluoric acid for 60 seconds (Figure 4). The alternative method of surface conditioning would be the use of 50-μm aluminum oxide air-abrasion under light pressure (14 psi). The surface is then silanated with a ceramic primer containing a 10-methacryloyloxydecyl dihydrogen phosphate (10-MDP) functional monomer.

The stains from the kit are mixed (using a nonmetallic spatula) to the preferred level of saturation (chroma). After mixing, the operator has approximately 10 minutes of working time because the stains have dual-cure chemistry.

The stains can be applied using the brushes supplied in the kit (Figure 5 and Figure 6). During the staining, an individual stain can be "set" in place with a few seconds of light exposure from a curing light. Once the staining is completed, the entire restoration is light polymerized before the final sealing glaze is applied.

The last step is to glaze the entire restoration, which is important because this seals the underlying stains and provides a protective layer from the oral environment. A thin layer of the liquid glaze can be applied with a microbrush and then light polymerized (Figure 7 through Figure 9).

Crown Cementation

Once the dentist has prepared the crown and abutment, the cemented implant crown, which has now been converted to a screw-retained version, can be placed on the implant fixture. The screw is then tightened to the manufacturer's recommended amount of torque. A piece of Teflon tape or cotton is placed into the screw-access hole. The same ceramic primer is positioned around the opening of the screw-access hole and dried followed by the application of an adhesive bonding agent. The adhesive is then light polymerized followed by the application of a resin composite that matches the shade of the crown. After it is light polymerized, the occlusion of the resin composite "patch" is verified and then smoothed and polished (Figure 10 through Figure 12).


This simple, low-cost technique of converting a cement-retained implant crown to a screw-retained implant crown allows for easy retrievability and eliminates a number of laboratory steps and costs. Additional scan bases and posts are no longer necessary to manufacture a screw-retained implant crown. This technique, using a lower-modulus PICN-type restorative material that allows modifications to be made easily, can fabricate an esthetically pleasing, low-occlusal-impact restoration. The screw-retained implant crown alleviates the concern of residual cement that can lead to peri-implantitis.

About the Author

Gregg A. Helvey, DDS, MAGD, CDT
Private Practice
Middleburg, Virginia


1. Choosing between screw-retained and cement-retained implant crowns. Glidewell Dental. Accessed March 6, 2018.

2. Understanding screw-retained implant restorations. Spear Education. Published January 31, 2014. Accessed March 6, 2018.

3. Schoenbaum TR, Wadhwani CPK. Screw-retained versus cement-retained restorations: aesthetic zone options. Dent Today. 2017;36(1):100-107.

4. Assaf M, Gharbyeh AA. Screw-retained crown restorations of single implants: a step-by-step clinical guide. Eur J Dent. 2014;8(4):563-570.

5. Korsch M, Obst U, Walther W. Cement-associated peri-implantitis: a retrospective clinical observational study of fixed implant-supported restorations using a methacrylate cement. Clin Oral Implants Research. 2014;25(7):797-802.

6. Taylor TD, Agar JR, Vogiatzi T. Implant prosthodontics: current perspective and future directions. Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants. 2000;15(1):66-75.

7. Papaspyridakos P, Chen C-J, Gallucci GO, et al. Accuracy of implant impressions for partially and completely edentulous patients: a systematic review. Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants. 2014;29(4):836-845.

8. Yuan JC-C, Sukotjo C. Occlusion for implant-supported fixed dental prostheses in partially edentulous patients: a literature review and current concepts. J Periodontal Implant Sci. 2013;43(2):51-57.

9. Tawil G. Peri-implant bone loss caused by occlusal overload: repair of the peri-implant defect following correction of the traumatic occlusion. A case report. Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants. 2008;23(1):153-157.

10. Junqueira RB, Saavedra GdeSFA, deMacedo NL. Considerations about the relation between occlusal trauma and periodontal/peri-implant disease. Brazil Dent Sci. 2015;18(2):9-14.

11. Duyck J, Vandamme K. The effect of loading on peri-implant bone: a critical review of the literature. J Oral Rehabil. 2014;41(10):783-794.

12. Menini M, Conserva E, Tealdo T, et al. Shock absorption capacity of restorative materials for dental implant prostheses: an in vitro study. Int J Prosthodont. 2013;26(6):549-556.

13. Bijjargi S, Chowdhary R. Stress dissipation in the bone through various crown materials of dental implant restoration: a 2-D finite element analysis. J Invest Clin Dent. 2013;4(3):172-177.

14. Coldea A, Swain MV, Thiel N. Mechanical properties of polymer-infiltrated-ceramic-network materials. Dent Mater. 2013;29(4):419-426.

15. Pigliacelli S. Correcting malpositioned dental implants: where do we go from here? Perio-Implant Advisory. Published March 15, 2016. Accessed March 6, 2018.

16. Coachman C, Salama M, Garber D, et al. Prosthetic gingival reconstruction in fixed partial restorations. Part 3: laboratory procedures and maintenance. Int J Periodontics Restorative Dent. 2010;30(1):19-29.

17. George S, Shenoy VK, Rodrigues SJ, et al. An in vitro study to evaluate the accuracy of dies obtained from dual-arch impression trays using addition silicone impression material and tray combinations. J Interdiscip Dent. 2015;5(3):119-124.

18. Hoyos A, Soderholm KJ. Influence of tray rigidity and impression technique on accuracy of polyvinyl siloxane impressions. Int J Prosthodont. 2011;24(1):49-54.

Fig 1. Two stock abutments have been modified with apical and coronal circumferential undercuts.

Figure 1

Fig 2. The scanned image of the abutment shows the clearly defined screw-access hole.

Figure 2

Fig 3. The titanium carrier fixture has been modified for sufficient occlusal and interproximal clearance.

Figure 3

Fig 4. The etched crown after application of 5% hydrofluoric acid for 60 seconds.

Figure 4

Fig 5. Thinned brown stain is applied to the occlusal surface.

Figure 5

Fig 6. Thinned khaki stain is applied to the cervical area.

Figure 6

Fig 7. After application of the glaze, the entire surface is light polymerized.

Figure 7

Fig 8. The tissue side of the implant-supported crown can be refined and polished.

Figure 8

Fig 9. After the staining is completed, the implant crown can be inserted and torqued to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Figure 9

Fig 10. Lingual view of the screw-retained implant crown after placement of the composite “patch,” smoothing, and polishing.

Figure 10

Fig 11. Facial view of the screw-retained implant crown.

Figure 11

Fig 12. Occlusal view of the screw-retained implant crown.

Figure 12

Take the Accredited CE Quiz:

CREDITS: 1 SI (Laboratory)
COST: $8.00
SOURCE: Inside Dental Technology | April 2019

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the problems associated with cement-retained, implant-supported crowns<.li>
  • List the materials options
  • Explain the simple fabrication of a screw-retained/cemented, implant-supported crown

Author Qualifications:

Private Practice, Middleburg, Virginia


The author reports no conflicts of interest associated with this work.

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