The impact of loads on standard diameter, small diameter and mini implants: a comparative laboratory study

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While caution in the use of small-diameter (≤3.5 mm) implants has been advocated in view of an increased risk of fatigue fracture under clinical loading conditions, a variety of implant designs with diameters <3 mm are currently offered in the market for reconstructions including fixed restorations. There is an absence of reported laboratory studies and randomized-controlled clinical trials to demonstrate clinical efficacy for implant designs with small diameters. This laboratory study aimed to provide comparative data on the mechanical performance of a number of narrow commercially marketed implants.

Materials and methods

Implants of varying designs were investigated under a standardized test set-up similar to that recommended for standardized ISO laboratory testing. Implant assemblies were mounted in acrylic blocks supporting laboratory cast crowns and subjected to 30° off-axis loading on an LRX Tensometer. Continuous output data were collected using Nexygen software.


Load/displacement curves demonstrated good grouping of samples for each design with elastic deformation up to a point of failure approximating the maximum load value for each sample. The maximum loads for Straumann (control) implants were 989 N (±107 N) for the 4.1 mm RN design, and 619 N (±50 N) for the 3.3 mm RN implant (an implant known to have a risk of fracture in clinical use). Values for mini implants were recorded as 261 N (±31 N) for the HiTec 2.4 mm implant, 237 N (±37 N) for the Osteocare 2.8 mm mini and 147 N (±25 N) for the Osteocare mini design. Other implant designs were also tested.


The diameters of the commercially available implants tested demonstrated a major impact on their ability to withstand load, with those below 3 mm diameter yielding results significantly below a value representing a risk of fracture in clinical practice. The results therefore advocate caution when considering the applicability of implants ≤3 mm diameter. Standardized fatigue testing is recommended for all commercially available implants.

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