Bone loss after full-thickness and partial-thickness flap elevation

J Clin Periodontol. 2011 Feb;38(2):157-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051X.2010.01658.x. Epub 2010 Nov 30.


Objectives: the aim of this study was to histologically assess whether elevation of partial-thickness flaps results in reduced bone alterations, as compared with full-thickness flap preparations.

Material and methods: in five beagle dogs, both mandibular second premolars (split-mouth design) were subjected to one of the following treatments: Tx1: elevation of a partial-thickness flap over the mesial root of P(2) and performing a notch at the height of the bone. Tx2: elevation of a full-thickness flap over the mesial root of P(2) and performing a notch at the height of the bone. After 4 months, sections were evaluated for: (i) vertical bone loss and (ii) osteoclastic activity using histometry.

Results: elevation of both full- and partial-thickness flaps results in bone loss and elevated osteoclastic activity. Partial-thickness flaps can result in less bone loss than full-thickness flaps, but are subject to some variability.

Conclusion: use of partial-thickness flaps does not prevent from all bone loss. The procedure may result most of the times in less bone loss than the elevation of full-thickness flaps. Further research has to evaluate the determinants of effective outcomes of partial-thickness flap procedures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Alveolar Bone Loss / etiology*
  • Animals
  • Bone Remodeling / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dogs
  • Gingiva / surgery*
  • Mandible
  • Oral Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Periosteum / surgery*
  • Surgical Flaps / adverse effects*
  • Vertical Dimension