Purpose: Short dental implants serve as a valuable alternative for patients with limited bone height. Immediate or early provisionalization facilitates a more physiologic environment for the gingival tissues to be modeled. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to systematically review and evaluate the implant survival and marginal bone loss with immediate and early loading protocols of short dental implants (≤ 6 mm).
Keywords: bone loss, dental implants, humans, short, success, survival
Materials and Methods: A literature search (electronic and manual) was conducted to identify studies with a focused PICO question: “In patients with short dental implants, does loading time affect treatment outcomes?” Studies using an immediate or early loading protocol for restoration of short implants with a mean follow-up of at least 1 year, and refraining from the use of advanced surgical procedures (sinus floor elevation, bone augmentation), were included. After evaluating patient selection and outcome reporting biases, a meta-analysis was conducted to assess implant survival and bone loss for studies fulfilling the inclusion criteria. Bone loss differences between immediate and early loading protocols were evaluated by Student t test, and Spearman correlation analysis was used to analyze the trends between crown-to-implant (C/I) ratio and bone loss.
Results: A total of 396 studies with patients receiving short implants (≤ 6 mm) with immediate or early prosthetic loading protocols were identified. For the 7 included studies, the pooled implant survival rate for 322 implants with a follow-up ranging from 1 to 10 years (5 years) was 91.63% (95% CI: 88% to 94%), with a mean bone loss effect estimate of 0.52 ± 0.1 mm (z = 3.07, P < .002). The differences observed in the mean bone loss for studies using immediate loading as opposed to early loading were not statistically significant. A moderate but significant positive correlation was observed between the C/I ratio and mean bone loss levels (r = 0.67, P = .02).
Conclusion: Short implants with immediate or early loading protocols have satisfactory long-term treatment prospects with satisfactory implant survival rates and minimal bone loss.