Spontaneous early exposure of submerged implants: I. Classification and clinical observations

Haim Tal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: It is believed that during the osseointegration phase of submerged dental implants, complete mucosal coverage and isolation of the implant from the oral cavity avoids trauma and infection and establishes favorable conditions for osseointegration. Spontaneous early exposure is one of the complications that could adversely affect osseointegration of implants. Methods: This study clinically classifies spontaneous early exposure and describes and analyzes this complication in a group of 148 patients treated with 372 submerged implants: 216 (58%) in the mandible and 156 (42%) in the maxilla. Edentulous sites were exposed by mid-crestal incisions and full thickness gingival flaps. Incisions were closed in an attempt to achieve complete closure and healing by primary intention. Measurements were taken to avoid mechanical trauma to the mucosa over the implants. Patients were followed up weekly and examined to identify early exposures. Perforations were classified according to the degree of exposure from 0 (no perforations) to 4 (complete exposure). Results: Of the implants 51 (13.7%) presented spontaneous early exposure,28 (13%) in the mandible and 23 (14.7%) in the maxilla. Class 2 perforation was the most frequent, followed by Class 3, Class 1 and Class 4. Inflammation at the mucosal orifices of the perforations was minimal, but no objective index (bleeding, probing) was taken in order to avoid morphological changes of the lesions that were biopsied for histological examination. Conclusions: Early perforation and partial exposure of the implant's covering device are a focus for plaque accumulation which, if left untreated, may result in inflammation, damage to the peri-implant mucosa, and possible peri-implant loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-219
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Periodontology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1999


  • Dental implants/classification
  • Infection/prevention and control
  • Osseointegration


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