Background: To evaluate soft tissue conditions and bone loss around palatal positioned implants supporting fixed full-arch prostheses to rehabilitate edentulous maxillae with horizontal atrophy and compare them with conventional well-centered implants placed in non-atrophic maxillae after a minimum follow-up of 5 years.
Material and methods: A clinical retrospective study was performed of patients that were rehabilitated with full-arch fixed implant-supported maxillary prostheses and had a minimum follow-up of 5 years after implant loading. Patients were divided into 2 groups: patients with class IV maxilla according to Cawood and Howell and treated with palatal positioned implants (test) and with class III maxilla and treated with implants well-centered in the alveolar ridge and completely surrounded by bone (control). The following variables were assessd: age, sex, frequency of toothbrushing, smoking, type of prosthesis, type of implant, implant success, amount of buccal keratinized mucosa, buccal retraction, probing depth, plaque index, modified bleeding index, presence of mucositis or peri-implantitis and peri-implant bone loss. Statistical analysis was performed applying Chi2 Test and Student's t-test using alpha set at 0.05.
Results: A total of 57 patients were included: 32 patients with 161 palatal positioned implants (test) and 25 patients with 132 well centered implants (control). No statistically significant differences were found regarding age, sex and smoking, but test group patients reported a significantly higher frequency of daily toothbrushing. Implant success rates were 96.9% for test group implants and 96.0% for control group implants. Peri-implant mucosa retraction was significantly higher in the control group than in the test group (p=0,017). No significant differences were observed either for all the other assessed clinical parameters or for peri-implant bone loss.
Conclusions: Despite its limitations the outcomes of the present study suggest that palatal positioned implants may be a good treatment alternative for patients with severe horizontal maxillary alveolar bone atrophy. Palatal positioned implants presented similar success rates, soft tissue conditions and peri-implant bone loss than well-centered implants placed completely surrounded by bone in non-atrophic ridges.