Implant loading protocols for edentulous patients with fixed prostheses: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants. 2014:29 Suppl:256-70. doi: 10.11607/jomi.2014suppl.g4.3.


Purpose: To report on the effect of immediate implant loading with fixed prostheses compared to early and conventional loading on implant and prosthesis survival, failure, and complications.

Materials and methods: An electronic and manual search was conducted to identify randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs) as well as prospective and retrospective studies involving rough surface implants and implant fixed complete dental prostheses for edentulous patients.

Results: The 62 studies that fulfilled the inclusion criteria featured 4 RCTs, 2 prospective case-control studies, 34 prospective cohort studies, and 22 retrospective cohort studies. These studies yielded data from 2,695 patients (2,757 edentulous arches) with 13,653 implants. Studies were grouped according to the loading protocol applied; 45 studies reported on immediate loading, 8 on early loading, and 11 on conventional loading. For the immediate loading protocol with flap surgery, the implant and prosthesis survival rates ranged from 90.1% to 100% and 93.75% to 100%, respectively (range of follow-up, 1 to 10 years). When immediate loading was combined with guided flapless implant placement, the implant survival rates ranged from 90% to 99.4%. For the early loading protocol, the implant and prosthesis survival rates ranged from 94.74% to 100% and 93.75% to 100%, respectively (range of follow-up, 1 to 10 years). For the conventional loading protocol, the implant and prosthesis survival rates ranged from 94.95% to 100% and 87.5% to 100%, respectively (range of follow-up, 2 to 15 years). No difference was identified between maxilla and mandible.

Conclusions: When selecting cases carefully and using dental implants with a rough surface, immediate loading with fixed prostheses in edentulous patients results in similar implant and prosthesis survival and failure rates as early and conventional loading. For immediate loading, most of the studies recommended a minimal insertion torque of 30 Ncm. The estimated 1-year implant survival was above 99% with all three loading protocols. Caution is necessary when interpreting these results, as there are many confounding factors that affect treatment outcomes with each of the loading protocols.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Implantation, Endosseous* / methods
  • Dental Implantation, Endosseous* / statistics & numerical data
  • Dental Implants
  • Dental Prosthesis Design
  • Dental Prosthesis, Implant-Supported
  • Dental Restoration Failure* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Immediate Dental Implant Loading / methods
  • Immediate Dental Implant Loading / statistics & numerical data
  • Jaw, Edentulous* / rehabilitation
  • Jaw, Edentulous* / surgery
  • Mandible / surgery
  • Maxilla / surgery
  • Mouth, Edentulous / rehabilitation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors


  • Dental Implants