BACKGROUND: Patients who undergo surgical management of oral cancer may greatly benefit from an implant-supported prosthesis. This study reports on the clinical experience of dental implant placement in patients following resection of oral cancer over a 15-year period. Controversies including the use of dental implants in irradiated tissues, and hyperbaric oxygen treatment will also be discussed. METHODS: Thirty-one patients who had dental implants placed as part of their oral rehabilitation between 1992 and 2007 were investigated. Demographic data and factors including implant survival, type of prosthesis provided, radiotherapy and the hyperbaric oxygen therapy were analysed. RESULTS: In this retrospective study, there was a retention rate of 110 implants from a total of 115 implants placed. A high rate of implant retention was found, with 5 implant failures from a total of 115 implants placed. The 5 failed implants occurred in free flap bone that had been irradiated. CONCLUSIONS: Dental implants provide an important role in the oral rehabilitation of oral cancer patients. There may be an increased risk of implant failure in free flap bone that has been irradiated.