OBJECTIVES: To compare guided bone regeneration (GBR) with connective tissue graft (CTG) in terms of aesthetic and patient-reported outcomes (PROMs).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Patients with a single tooth gap in the anterior maxilla and horizontal alveolar defect were enrolled in a single-blind RCT. All sites had a buccopalatal bone dimension of at least 6 mm, received a single implant and were randomly allocated to the control (GBR) or test group (CTG) to re-establish buccal soft tissue convexity. Primary outcomes were Pink Esthetic Score (PES) and Mucosal Scarring Index (MSI) assessed after 1 year. Secondary outcomes included PROMs registered during the early stages of healing and after 1 year.
RESULTS: Twenty-one patients were included per group (control: 11 females, mean age 51; test: nine females, mean age 48). Although there was no significant difference in the PES between the groups (control: 10.11; test: 10.48; p = .577), the MSI was significantly lower in the test (1.10) than in the control group (2.53) (p = .017). Based on descriptive statistics, the latter demonstrated wider scars, more colour mismatch and slightly more suture marks. However, these were not considered disturbing by the patients given similar VAS on soft tissue aesthetics (control: 84; test: 87). Oedema and haematoma were rated twice as high in the control group on at least two postoperative time points, and patients took more painkillers (7.10 vs. 4.86). OHIP-14 decreased in both groups between baseline and 1-year follow-up, indicative of less discomfort in daily life. Differences in MSI and PROMs between the groups may be explained by the need of a vertical releasing incision in order to achieve sufficient access for GBR, periosteal incisions and the use of biomaterials that may induce inflammation.
CONCLUSION: GBR and CTG resulted in favourable aesthetic outcomes as assessed by professionals and patients. However, given additional vertical and periosteal incisions, GBR resulted in more scarring, postoperative discomfort and a higher need for painkillers.