COVID-19 was not the culprit behind implant failure

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A study looking at implant patients with COVID-19 reveals risk factors of early implant failure

COVID-19 status has seemingly no impact on the failure rates of dental implants, according to a recent study. (Image: DC Studio/Shutterstock)

KAYSERI, Turkey: COVID-19 has infected over 670  million people. The disease can impact bone metabolism, stimulating bone resorption, reducing serum calcium levels and decreasing bone mineral density, potentially negatively affecting the osteointegration of dental implants. A novel retrospective study by researchers at Erciyes University in Turkey has investigated COVID-19 as one of the risk factors contributing to early dental implant failure. It provides insights into the impact of factors such as smoking, implant length and systemic disease on implant success and found that COVID-19 played no noticeable role in early implant failure. 

The implant procedures were carried out by experienced surgeons according to International Team for Implantology guidelines. The surgical protocol catered to patients with conditions like diabetes and hypertension, ensuring that they were well controlled before surgery. The study also factored in patients who had undergone radiotherapy or chemotherapy. 

Out of the 1,228 patients (4,841 implants), 128 experienced early implant failure, amounting to a 10.4% patient-level and 3.1% implant-level early failure rate. According to previous studies, the early failure rate at the implant level ranges from 0.60% to 6.36%. Statistically significant associations were found between early implant failure, age, smoking and implant length. However, there was no statistically significant effect from factors like COVID-19, sex, diabetes, irradiation, chemotherapy, osteoporosis, implant system, location or implant diameter. 

The finding that smoking and shorter implant length (≤ 8 mm) were risk factors for early dental implant failure, whereas factors such as COVID-19, diabetes and osteoporosis were not may reflect that fact that these conditions were well controlled before surgery and that patients with a SARS-CoV-2-positive test prior to prosthesis placement or early implant failure were assumed to be infected. 

Among the study limitations are its retrospective nature, relying on historical patient records that may contain inaccuracies, and the lack of information on bone quality, initial stability and bone augmentation procedures performed during surgery. Nevertheless, according to the authors, this is the first study to analyse the potential impact of COVID-19 on dental implant success, contributing valuable information to the dental community. The authors recommend future research with larger patient cohorts and a broader range of variables to confirm their findings. 

The study, titled “COVID-19 as a factor associated with early dental implant failures: A retrospective analysis”, was published online on 14 June 2023 in Clinical Implant Dentistry and Related Research, ahead of inclusion in an issue. 

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