Atrophic jaws pose a challenge for practitioners placing dental implants as there is often insufficient bone to accommodate implants of an appropriate length. One workaround is to carry out a bone augmentation procedure, however these make treatments longer for the patient, put more demands on the practitioner and are associated with increased morbidity and complications.
A recent Italian study aimed to evaluate whether shorter implants (6mm long and 4mm wide) would be a viable alternative to placing longer implants (10mm long) in augmented bone. Forty patients were involved in the study, receiving either the shorter implants or the longer implants in augmented bone. After four months provisional prostheses were loaded, followed by definitive prostheses four months later. The implants were all examined three years post-loading. The assessment criteria for the implants included prosthesis/implant failure, complications and bone level changes.
At the three-year follow-up, the shorter implants showed a similar if not more positive outcome than the longer implants. For example, patients with shorter implants in the mandible lost 1.25mm of peri-implant bone compared with 1.54mm for patients with longer implants in the mandible. The results were similar in the maxillae. This suggests that shorter implants may be a viable alternative to bone augmentation, as they are cheaper, faster and are associated with lower morbidity.
This study was presented as an e-poster at the 2018 EAO Congress.