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Int J Prosthodont. 2007 Jul-Aug;20(4):383-8.

Five-year clinical results of zirconia frameworks for posterior fixed partial dentures.

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  • 1Clinic for Fixed and Removable Prosthodontics and Dental Materials, School of Dentistry, University of Zürich, Plattenstr. 11, 8032 Zürich, Switzerland.



The aim of this prospective clinical cohort study was to determine the success rate of 3- to 5-unit zirconia frameworks for posterior fixed partial dentures (FPDs) after 5 years of clinical observation.


Forty-five patients who needed at least 1 FPD to replace 1 to 3 posterior teeth were included in the study. Fifty-seven 3- to 5-unit FPDs with zirconia frameworks were cemented with 1 of 2 resin cements (Variolink or Panavia TC). The following parameters were evaluated at baseline, after 6 months, and 1 to 5 years after cementation at test (abutments) and control (contralateral) teeth: probing pocket depth, probing attachment level, Plaque Index, bleeding on probing, and tooth vitality. Intraoral radiographs of the FPDs were taken. Statistical analysis was performed using descriptive statistics, Kaplan-Meier survival analysis, and the McNemar test.


Twenty-seven patients with 33 zirconia FPDs were examined after a mean observation period of 53.4 +/- 13 months. Eleven patients with 17 FPDs were lost to follow-up. After the 3-year recall visit, 7 FPDs in 7 patients were replaced because they were not clinically acceptable due to biologic or technical complications. After 5 years of clinical observation, 12 FPDs in 12 patients had to be replaced. One 5-unit FPD fractured as a result of trauma after 38 months. The success rate of the zirconia frameworks was 97.8%; however, the survival rate was 73.9% due to other complications. Secondary caries was found in 21.7% of the FPDs, and chipping of the veneering ceramic in 15.2%. There were no significant differences between the periodontal parameters of the test and control teeth.


Zirconia offers sufficient stability as a framework material for 3- and 4-unit posterior FPDs. The fit of the frameworks and veneering ceramics, however, should be improved.

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