Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy of 7-mm-long flapless placed single implants immediately or early loaded at 6 weeks. Materials and methods: Thirty patients received two single Nanotite External Hex Biomet 3i implants that were then randomised for immediate or early loading. All implants had to be inserted with a minimum torque >40Ncm. Provisional crowns were put in slight occlusal contact and replaced by definitive crowns 3 months after loading. Outcome measures were implant failures, biological and biomechanical complications, peri-implant marginal bone level changes and patient preference. Results: Twenty-nine implants were immediately loaded and 31 early loaded. Thirteen flaps had to be elevated in 12 patients. Eleven implants in ten patients did not reach the planned insertion torque. Eight implants in seven patients were immediately replaced by implants with a larger diameter, two were loaded anyway, and one implant that was randomised to immediate loading was early loaded instead. Nine months after loading, no drop-out occurred. One implant failed in each group. There were no statistically significant differences between groups for implant losses, complications, mean marginal bone level changes, and patient preferences. Conclusions: Flapless placed 7-mm-long single implants can be successfully loaded the day of insertion. Longer follow-ups are needed to monitor the long-term prognosis of short implants.
Keywords: dental implants, early loading, flapless, immediate loading, short implants