Objectives: The aim of this study was to compare the performance of two non-splinted implants used as retention for a mandibular overdenture when applying conventional or early loading protocols.
Material and methods: Twenty edentulous patients were treated with two unsplinted and non-submerged implants (15 mm long, TiUnite RP, Brånemark System) in the anterior mandible. The patients were randomly allotted into two groups: (i) test group (Group A), in which the overdenture was connected 1 week after surgery, and (ii) control group (Group B), in which the overdenture was connected after 12 weeks of healing. Resonance frequency analyses (RFA) for implant stability measurements were performed at implant surgery and after 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. Marginal bone levels were evaluated at implant surgery and after 6 and 12 months.
Results: No implant from either group was lost and all implants showed less than 1 mm of marginal bone resorption during the first year. The mean implant stability quotient (ISQ) values at implant surgery were 76.2±2.8 for Group A and 75.6±4.5 for Group B. The 12-month measurements showed 76.4±2.5 ISQ and 76.4±2.8 ISQ for Groups A and B, respectively. There were no statistically significant changes between or within the groups with time. There were no differences in marginal bone loss, which was on average 0.3 mm for both groups after 1 year.
Conclusion: Although a limited number of patients were followed for 1 year only, the results of the present study indicate that early loading of two unsplinted 15 mm long implants with an overdenture does not negatively affect implant stability or marginal bone conditions when compared with implants subjected to 12 weeks of healing before loading.