Clinical implant dentistry and related research vol:13 issue:4 pages:296-304
Background: The innervation of skin and oral mucosa plays a major physiological role in exteroception. This innervation is also clinically relevant as sensory changes occur after neurosurgical procedures. Purpose: The goal of this study was to compare the perception of mechanical stimuli applied to the buccal mucosa in the vicinity of osseointegrated oral implants with that in the controlateral dentate side. The role of the previously reported increased innervation in the peri-implant soft tissues in the oral sensorimotor function was thus examined. Materials and Methods: Seventeen subjects with 20 implants were tested. Directional cutaneous kinaesthesia (DCK) and graphesthesia (G) were performed on the buccal side of the alveolar mucosa before and at planned intervals after implant placement. The observation was pursued until 6 months after the prosthetic rehabilitation. In each subject, the contralateral mucosa served as a control to the implant sites. Average percentages of correct responses in a four-choice task for DCK and a three-choice task for G were calculated. Results: Despite an intersubject variation in both the DCK and G, high intraindividual correlations were found (p < .005). The implant sites showed a significant difference toward the control sites at the four interval test for both tests. For DCK and G, the average of correct responses decreased after abutment connection (i.e., after the implant uncovering surgery) to increase afterwards to reach a level close to, but still lower than, the control sites 3 to 6 months after the prosthetic rehabilitation. Conclusion: The DCK and G are simple but reliable sensory tests that can be easily applied in the oral region. This prospective study indicates that tooth loss reduces tactile function compared with implant-supported prostheses. The peri-implant soft tissues could be partially involved in the osseoperception function.