What is the optimal timing for implant placement in oral cancer patients? A scoping literature review

Oral Dis. 2021 Jan;27(1):94-110. doi: 10.1111/odi.13312. Epub 2020 Mar 19.


Background: Oral cancer patients can benefit from dental implant placement. Traditionally, implants are placed after completing oncologic treatment (secondary implant placement). Implant placement during ablative surgery (primary placement) in oral cancer patients seems beneficial in terms of early start of oral rehabilitation and limiting additional surgical interventions. Guidelines on the ideal timing of implant placement in oral cancer patients are missing.

Objective: To perform a scoping literature review on studies examining the timing of dental implant placement in oral cancer patients and propose a clinical practice recommendations guideline.

Methods: A literature search for studies dealing with primary and/or secondary implant placement in MEDLINE was conducted (last search December 27, 2019). The primary outcome was 5-year implant survival.

Results: Sixteen out of 808 studies were considered eligible. Both primary and secondary implant placement showed acceptable overall implant survival ratios with a higher pooled 5-year implant survival rate for primary implant placement 92.8% (95% CI: 87.1%-98.5%) than secondary placed implants (86.4%, 95% CI: 77.0%-95.8%). Primary implant placement is accompanied by earlier prosthetic rehabilitation after tumor surgery.

Conclusion: Patients with oral cancer greatly benefit from, preferably primary placed, dental implants in their prosthetic rehabilitation. The combination of tumor surgery with implant placement in native mandibular bone should be provided as standard care.

Keywords: ablative surgery; dental implants; dental prosthesis; head and neck cancer; primary placement; timing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Implantation, Endosseous
  • Dental Implants*
  • Humans
  • Mandible
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / surgery


  • Dental Implants