Zirconia (3Y-TZP) dental prostheses are widely used in clinical dentistry. However, the effect of ultrasonic scaling performed as a part of professional tooth cleaning on 3Y-TZP dental prostheses, especially in conjunction with low-temperature degradation (LTD), has not been fully investigated. The present study aimed to evaluate the influence of ultrasonic scaling and LTD on the surface properties of 3Y-TZP in relation to bacterial adhesion on the treated surface. 3Y-TZP specimens (4 × 4 × 2 mm) were polished and then subjected to autoclaving at 134C for 100 h to induce LTD, followed by 10 rounds of ultrasonic scaling using a steel scaler tip for 1 min each. Surface roughness, crystalline structure, wettability, and hardness were analyzed by optical interferometry, X-ray diffraction analysis, contact angle measurement, and nano-indentation technique, respectively. Subsequently, bacterial adhesion onto the treated 3Y-TZP surface was evaluated using Streptococcus mitis and S. oralis. The results demonstrated that the combination of ultrasonic scaling and LTD significantly increased the Sa value (surface roughness parameter) of the polished 3Y-TZP surface from 1.6 nm to 117 nm. LTD affected the crystalline structure, causing phase transformation from the tetragonal to the monoclinic phase, and decreased both the contact angle and surface hardness. However, bacterial adhesion was not influenced by these changes in surface properties. The present study suggests that ultrasonic scaling may be acceptable for debridement of 3Y-TZP dental prostheses because it did not facilitate bacterial adhesion even in the combination with LTD, although it did cause slight roughening of the surface.
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