Interventions for replacing missing teeth: maintaining and recovering soft tissue health around dental implants

Missing teeth can be replaced by dental implants. However, keeping the gums around the implants healthy is important, as they can be negatively affected by dental plaque and its induced inflammation. Prevention of this may include daily implant cleaning techniques by patients and regular cleaning by dental professionals. Antibacterial mouthrinses may help reduce plaque and bleeding around dental implants, but there is no evidence that powered toothbrushes are better than manual toothbrushes or that brushing with a certain gel or dentifrice is better than another. Among the professionally administered treatments there is no evidence that phosphoric acid is more effective than scaling and polishing, that chlorhexidine enclosed in the inner part of implants is superior to physiologic solution or that a topical antibiotic inserted submucosally is better than a chlorhexidine gel.

Authors' conclusions: 

There was only low quality evidence for which are the most effective interventions for maintaining or recovering health of peri-implant soft tissues. The included RCTs had short follow-up periods and few subjects and although overall the risk of bias of the studies was either low or unclear, only single trials were available for each outcome. There was no reliable evidence as to which regimens are most effective for long term maintenance. This should not be interpreted as meaning that current maintenance regimens are ineffective. There was weak evidence that antibacterial mouthrinses are effective in reducing plaque and marginal bleeding around implants. More RCTs should be conducted in this area. In particular, there is a definite need for trials powered to find possible differences, using primary outcome measures and with much longer follow up. Such trials should be reported according to the CONSORT guidelines (

Read the full abstract...

It is important to institute an effective supportive therapy to maintain or recover soft tissue health around dental implants. Different maintenance regimens have been suggested, however it is unclear which are the most effective.


To assess the effects of different interventions for 1) maintaining and 2) recovering soft tissue health around osseointegrated dental implants.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Oral Health Group's Trials Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE and EMBASE. Handsearching included several dental journals. We checked the bibliographies of the identified randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and relevant review articles for studies outside the handsearched journals. We wrote to authors of all identified RCTs, to more than 55 oral implant manufacturers and to an Internet discussion group to find unpublished or ongoing RCTs. No language restrictions were applied. The last electronic search was conducted on 2 June 2010.

Selection criteria: 

All randomised controlled trials comparing agents or interventions for maintaining or recovering healthy tissues around dental implants.

Data collection and analysis: 

Screening of eligible studies, assessment of the methodological quality of the trials and data extraction were conducted in duplicate and independently by two review authors. Results were expressed as random-effects models using standardised mean differences for continuous data and risk ratios for dichotomous data with 95% confidence intervals.

Main results: 

Five trials compared interventions for maintaining soft tissue health around implants and a further six trials compared interventions to recover soft tissue health where there was evidence of peri-implant mucositis. No statistically significant differences were found between the effectiveness of powered versus manual toothbrushes for either maintaining or recovering soft tissue health. There was no statistically significant difference found between different types of self administered antimicrobials for maintaining soft tissue health (hyaluronic acid gel compared to chlorhexidine gel, amine fluoride/stannous fluoride mouthwash compared to chlorhexidine mouthwash) and triclosan dentifrice compared to sodium fluoride dentifrice showed no statistically significant difference in recovering soft tissue health. However chlorhexidine irrigation was more effective in reducing plaque and marginal bleeding scores compared to chlorhexidine mouthwash and Listerine mouthwash was found to be statistically significantly better than placebo with regard to reducing mean plaque scores and marginal bleeding scores. When interventions administered by dental professional were compared there was no statistically significant difference found between chlorhexidine and physiologic solutions as irrigants at second stage surgery to maintain health of soft tissues. In patients with peri-implant mucositis two trials evaluated interventions performed by dental professionals. There was no statistically significant difference between mechanical debridement followed by either minocycline or chlorhexidine gel, or between debridement with a titanium curette compared to an ultrasonic debridement tool.