Aims: To compare immediate versus early (6 weeks) non-occlusal loading of dental implants placed flapless in partially edentulous patients 1 year after loading. Materials and methods: Sixty patients were randomised: 30 to the immediately loaded group and 30 to the early loaded group. In order to be immediately loaded, implants were inserted with a minimum torque of ≥40Ncm. Implants were fully occlusally loaded after 6 months. Outcome measures were prosthesis and implant failures, and biological and biomechanical complications. Results: Five implants in five patients randomised to the immediately loaded group did not reach the required primary implant stability. Three of these implants (two prostheses) were not immediately loaded. Two patients who were randomised to the early loaded group were immediately loaded erroneously. Implants in five patients of the early loaded group were conventionally loaded. No patient dropped out and there were no failures. Two complications occurred in the early and one in the immediately loaded group (no statistically significant difference), but were solved. Conclusions: The use of a flapless technique for placing dental implants in conjunction with non-occlusal immediate or early loading in selected patients can provide excellent clinical results. No differences were observed when comparing implants that were loaded immediately or early. Therefore, when a high primary implant stability is obtained, it might be preferable to load the implants immediately rather than waiting for a few weeks.
Keywords: dental implants, early loading, immediate loading, non-occlusal loading, partial edentulism