Objectives: The objective of this systematic review was to critically evaluate marginal soft-tissue aspects at implants subjected to immediate loading or immediate restoration.
Methods: An electronic Medline search from 1966 up to August 2005 was conducted to identify prospective and retrospective studies on immediate implant loading. The search strategy was complemented by hand searching in peer-reviewed journals. Studies reporting on soft-tissue aspects at implants subjected to immediate loading or immediate restoration and with a follow-up time of at least 1 year were included. Assessment of identified studies and data extraction was performed independently by two reviewers. An attempt was made to isolate and categorize studies with similar protocols in order to identify trends and relevant factors. Variables that were considered included marginal and interproximal soft-tissue stability, marginal plaque accumulation, probing depth, bleeding on probing, peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis.
Results: From an initial yield of 581 titles, 240 articles were selected for text analysis, finally resulting in 17 studies that met the inclusion criteria. Six studies on immediate implant loading or restoration were controlled studies, whereas the remainder was prospective case series. Seven studies reported on a 1-year data, and the longest follow-up within the included studies was 4 years. The total number of patients treated within the 17 studies was 432 including a total 706 implants studied. Overall, the articles reported on many different procedures and follow-up times, time points and evaluated soft-tissue parameters varied considerably between the different articles.
Conclusion: Within the limits of the evaluated data it can be cautiously concluded that once immediately loaded or restored implants integrate successfully, they appear to show a soft-tissue reaction with regard to periodontal as well as morphologic aspects comparable with those of conventionally loaded implants. However, follow-up periods are generally short, number of patients and/or implants per study are few, and most studies present only limited data on peri-implant soft-tissue evaluation. More accurate long-term studies with a stronger study design (i.e., RCT) reporting more detailed on treatment and follow-up protocols are required to allow for proper comparisons and conclusions.