Biomedical research seeks to generate experimental results for translation to clinical settings. In order to improve the transition from bench to bedside, researchers must draw justifiable conclusions based on data from an appropriate model. Animal testing, as a prerequisite to human clinical exposure, is performed in a range of species, from laboratory mice to larger animals (such as dogs or non-human primates). Minipigs appear to be the animal of choice for studying bone surgery around intraoral dental implants. Dog models, well-known in the field of dental implant research, tend now to be used for studies conducted under compromised oral conditions (biofilm). Regarding small animal models, research studies mostly use rodents, with interest in rabbit models declining. Mouse models remain a reference for genetic studies. On the other hand, over the last decade, scientific advances and government guidelines have led to the replacement, reduction, and refinement of the use of all animal models in dental implant research. In new development strategies, some in vivo experiments are being progressively replaced by in vitro or biomaterial approaches. In this review, we summarize the key information on the animal models currently available for dental implant research and highlight (i) the pros and cons of each type, (ii) new levels of decisional procedures regarding study objectives, and (iii) the outlook for animal research, discussing possible non-animal options.
Keywords: biocompatibility; human-sized dental implant; implant models; murine dental implant; osseointegration; pre-clinical research.