Narrow diameter implants ([NDIs]; diameter <3.75 mm) are a potential solution for specific clinical situations such as reduced interradicular bone, thin alveolar crest, and replacement of teeth with small cervical diameter. NDIs have been available in clinical practice since the 1990s, but only a few studies have analyzed their clinical outcome.
From November 1996 to February 2004, 237 patients were selected, and 510 NDIs were inserted. Implant diameter ranged from 3.0 to 3.5 mm, multiple implant systems were used, and 255 implants were restored immediately without loading (IRWL). No statistical differences were detected among the studied variables. Consequently, marginal bone loss (MBL) was considered an indicator of the success rate (SCR) to evaluate the effect of several host-, surgery-, and implant-related factors. A general linear model (GLM) was used to detect those variables statistically associated with MBL.
Only three of 510 implants were lost (survival rate [SRR] = 99.4%), and no differences were detected among the studied variables. On the contrary, the GLM showed that delayed loading and longer (>13 mm) and larger (3.4 and 3.5 mm) NDIs reduced MBL.
NDIs have a high SRR and SCR, similar to those reported in previous studies of regular diameter implants. Moreover, IRWL of NDIs is a reliable procedure, although a slightly higher bone resorption is reported compared to delayed loading. No implant fractures were detected in the present series.