To review the dental literature in terms of soft tissue augmentation procedures and their influence on peri-implant health or disease in partially and fully edentulous patients.
A MEDLINE search from 1966 to 2016 was performed to identify controlled clinical studies comparing soft tissue grafting versus no soft tissue grafting (maintenance) or two types of soft tissue grafting procedures at implant sites. The soft tissue grafting proceduresincluded either an increase of keratinized tissue or an increase of the thickness of the peri-implant mucosa. Studies reporting on the peri-implant tissue health, as assessed by bleeding or gingival indices, were included in the review. The search was complemented by an additional hand search of all selected full-text articles and reviews published between 2011 and 2016. The initial search yielded a total number of 2,823 studies. Eligible studies were selected based on the inclusion criteria (finally included: four studies on gain of keratinized tissue; six studies on gain of mucosal thickness) and quality assessments conducted. Meta-analyses were applied whenever possible.
Soft tissue grafting procedures for gain of keratinized tissue resulted in a significantly greater improvement of gingival index values compared to maintenance groups (with or without keratinized tissue) [n = 2; WMD = 0.863; 95% CI (0.658; 1.067); p < .001]. For final marginal bone levels, statistically significant differences were calculated in favor of an apically positioned flap (APF) plus autogenous grafts versus all control treatments (APF alone; APF plus a collagen matrix; maintenance without intervention [with or without residual keratinized tissue]) [n = 4; WMD = -0.175 mm; 95% CI: (-0.313; -0.037); p = .013]. Soft tissue grafting procedures for gain of mucosal thickness did not result in significant improvements in bleeding indices over time, but in significantly less marginal bone loss over time [WMD = 0.110; 95% CI: 0.067; 0.154; p < .001] and a borderline significance for marginal bone levels at the study endpoints compared to sites without grafting.
Within the limitations of this review, it was concluded that soft tissue grafting procedures result in more favorable peri-implant health: (i) for gain of keratinized mucosa using autogenous grafts with a greater improvement of bleeding indices and higher marginal bone levels; (ii) for gain of mucosal thickness using autogenous grafts with significantly less marginal bone loss.