Purpose: Dental implant therapy is a common clinical treatment for missing teeth. However, the esthetic result is not as satisfactory as expected in some cases, especially in the anterior maxillary area. Poor esthetic results are caused by inadequate preparation of the hard and soft tissues in this area before treatment. The socket shield technique may be an alternative for a desirable esthetic outcome in dental implant treatments. Study selection: In the present systematic review, PubMed-Medline, Google Scholar, and ScienceDirect were searched for clinical studies published from January 2000 to December 2018. Results: Twenty studies were included, comprising one randomized controlled trial, two cohort studies, 14 clinical human case reports, and three retrospective case series. In total, 288 patients treated with the socket shield technique with immediate implant placement and follow-up between 3–60 months after placement were included. A quality assessment showed that 12 of the 20 included studies were of good quality. Twenty-six of the 274 (9.5%) cases developed complications or adverse effects related to the socket shield technique. Most studies reported implant survival without the complications (90.5%); most of the cases that were followed up for more than 12 months after implant placement achieved a good esthetic appearance. The failure rate was low without the complications, although there were some failures due to failed implant osseointegration, socket shield mobility and infection, socket shield exposure, socket shield migration, and apical root resorption. Conclusions: The socket shield technique can be used in dental implant treatment, but it remains difficult to predict the long-term success of this technique until high-quality evidence becomes available.
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