AIM: To test whether the use of short dental implants (6 mm) results in an implant survival rate similar to that with longer implants (11-15 mm) in combination with sinus grafting.
METHODS: This multicentre study enrolled 101 patients with partial edentulism in the posterior maxilla and a remaining bone height of 5-7 mm. Included patients were randomly assigned to receive short implants (6 mm; GS/group short) or long implants (11-15 mm) simultaneously with sinus grafting (GG/group graft). Six months after implant placement (IP), implants were loaded with single crowns (PR) and patients were re-examined yearly thereafter. Assessed outcomes included: implant survival, marginal bone level changes (MBL), probing pocket depth (PPD), bleeding on probing (BoP) and plaque accumulation (PCR) during 3 years of loading as well as recording of any adverse effects. In addition to descriptive statistics, statistical analysis has been performed for the two treatment modalities using a non-parametric approach.
RESULTS: In 101 patients, 137 implants were placed. At the 3-year follow-up (FU-3), 94 patients with 129 implants were re-examined. The implant survival rate was 100% in both groups. MBL at FU-3 was 0.45 mm (GG) and 0.44 mm (GS) (p > 0.05). A statistically significant loss of MBL was observed in both GG (-0.43 ± 0.58 mm) and GS (-0.44 ± 0.56 mm) from IP to FU-3, and from PR to FU-3 in GG (-0.25 ± 0.58 mm) but not in GS (-0.1 ± 0.54 mm). PCR and BoP at FU-3 did not show any difference between the groups but for PPD (p = 0.035).
CONCLUSIONS: Within the limitations of this study, implants with a length of 6 mm as well as longer implants in combination with a lateral sinus lift may be considered as a treatment option provided a residual ridge height of 5-7 mm in the atrophied posterior maxilla is present.