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Keywords:

  • Dental implant;
  • oral implant;
  • osseointegration;
  • level of evidence;
  • immediate loading;
  • early loading;
  • immediate implants;
  • guided surgery

Abstract

The purpose of this review is to explore the concept of immediate loading as it pertains to dental implants and the indications for clinical practice. The definition of immediate loading will be considered together with a review of the relevant literature in an attempt to provide evidence-based guidelines for successful implementation into practice.

A search of electronic databases including Medline, PubMed and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews was undertaken using the terms ``immediate loading'', ``dental implants'', ``immediate function'', ``early loading'', ``oral implants'', ``immediate restoration'' and ``systematic review''. This was supplemented by handsearching in peer-reviewed journals and cross-referenced with the articles accessed. Emphasis was given to systematic reviews and controlled clinical trials.

A definition of immediate loading was suggested pertinent to the realities of logistics in clinical practice with respect to application and time frame. The literature was evaluated and shown to be limited with significant shortcomings. Guidelines and recommendations for clinical protocols were suggested and illustrated by examples of case types with a minimum of 1–3 years follow-up. A list of additional references for further reading was provided.

Within the limitations of this review, there is evidence to suggest that immediate loading protocols have demonstrated high implant survival rates and may be cautiously recommended for certain clinical situations. However, more high level evidence studies, preferably randomized controlled trials (RCTs), over a long time frame are required to show a clear benefit over more conventional loading protocols.