Are teeth superior to implants? A mapping review


Preventive and Restorative Dentistry

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Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry









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Statement of problem: There is a long-held assumption that teeth are superior to implants because the periodontal ligament (PDL) confers a preeminent defense against biologic and mechanical challenges. However, adequate analysis of the literature is lacking. As a result, differential treatment planning of tooth- and implant-supported restorations has been compromised. Purpose: Given an abundance and diversity of research, the purpose of this mapping review was to identify basic scientific gaps in the knowledge of how teeth and implants respond to biologic and mechanical loads. The findings will offer enhanced evidence-based clinical decision-making when considering replacement of periodontally compromised teeth and the design of implant prostheses. Material and methods: The online databases PubMed, Science Direct, and Web of Science were searched. Published work from 1965 to 2020 was collected and independently analyzed by both authors for inclusion in this review. Results: A total of 108 articles met the inclusion criteria of clinical, in vivo, and in vitro studies in the English language on the periradicular and peri-implant bone response to biologic and mechanical loads. The qualitative analysis found that the PDL's enhanced vascularity, stem cell ability, and resident cells that respond to inflammation allow for a more robust defense against biologic threats compared with implants. While the suspensory PDL acts to mediate moderate loads to the bone, higher compressive stress and strain within the PDL itself can initiate a biologic sequence of osteoclastic activity that can affect changes in the adjacent bone. Conversely, the peri-implant bone is more resistant to similar loads and the threshold for overload is higher because of the absence of a stress or strain sensitivity inherent in the PDL. Conclusions: Based on this mapping review, teeth are superior to implants in their ability to resist biologic challenges, but implants are superior to teeth in managing higher compressive loads without prompting bone resorption.