Repairing your smile that’s been affected by tooth loss can be life-changing. Everyone deserves to live with a beautiful, complete smile and thanks to advancements in dental technology, you can transform your smile back to its natural appearance.
Dental implants are progressively becoming a leading restorative treatment in the world of dentistry for many sufferers of tooth loss. Instead of struggling with getting used to a denture that slides around or an uncomfortable fitting bridge, dental implants are a secure, long-lasting tooth replacement option that completely enhances your appearance and boosts your confidence.
However, just like any procedure, some postoperative complications may arise due to a variety of factors. A failed dental implant is extremely rare for many implant-certified dentists like Dr. Keith MacDonald who retains a 99.9% success rate placing the replacement teeth, but there is still a potential possibility.
Learn about the anatomy of dental implants and explore why each part of your new tooth is crucial to avoid failure.
Understanding the Creation of Dental Implants
The dental implants we now use today can be traced back to the 1950s when an orthopedic surgeon discovered that titanium could mend together with human bone and not be removed. After further research, this technique was termed the named “osseointegration” by a physician who was the first to place a titanium implant into a patient’s jaw.
Now, due to the success of osseointegration, dental implants have been designed to act just like a natural tooth so it can provide a stable, secure base for a natural-looking restoration. Since they bond together with the jawbone, implants can also help regenerate lost jawbone and prevent future deterioration.
The 3 Parts of an Implant
Most dental implants have three parts — a titanium implant that integrates with your jawbone, an abutment that attaches to the implant, and a permanent restoration such as a crown or denture. Complications with your replacement tooth can stem if any of these parts are damaged or become loose due to a failed process of osseointegration.
Being aware of any possible issues with your new replacement tooth can encourage you to find proper care right away so you can avoid future dental problems. Dental implant failure can be prevented if you look out for warning signs and ensure you follow proper post-op recovery steps.
5 Warning Signs of a Post-Op Implant Problem
An oral complication with your dental implant can be seen either within the first few months after placement or even years later. It’s helpful to recognize any indication of potential implant failure as soon as possible so you can return to your dentist who can reinstate success with a newly placed implant.
See what the five most common warning signs you should look out for after you’ve restored your smile with dental implants.
1. A Loose, Movable Implant
If the implant doesn’t completely integrate with your jawbone, it will likely move around and feel like it’s unattached from the jaw. Sometimes your dentist will be the first to realize your implant hasn’t successfully bonded after the initial, three to six-month healing period which oftentimes they can fix.
Otherwise, if your implant has unsuccessfully fused with your jawbone, over time it’ll feel wobbly and consistently move whenever you speak or eat.
2. Pain, Swelling, Infection
Just like any other type of surgery, it’s normal to experience pain and discomfort after your implant procedure. If you continue to suffer from severe pain or see swelling around the site after the first week of recovery, it may be a sign of an infection or tissue damage.
Many people are unaware that although the implant itself can’t become infected or decayed, the supporting tissue around it can. If the gums around your implant become infected, it’ll most likely lead to peri-implantitis– a type of gum disease that can weaken your jawbone and ultimately result in implant failure.
There’s also a chance that you’ll notice prolonged sensitivity and swelling around your dental implant, which can mean you have nerve or tissue damage. These unwanted feelings can spread throughout your mouth and prevent your mouth from successfully healing.
3. Insufficient Bone Growth
In order for dental implants to be successful, they need an adequate amount of jawbone density to properly support them. When bone resorption has occurred due to living without a tooth for too long or from wearing dentures, you may require a preliminary procedure to restore your lost bone.
If the bone regenerating procedure fails and your dentist still places implants afterward, it’s likely your jaw won’t successfully grow around it and won’t be able to support the titanium post. To ensure you have sufficient bone mass prior to receiving dental implants, finding a reliable implant dentist who performs supplemental procedures is crucial.
Not all dentists are able to complete a bone grafting surgery, so many will have to send you to another office which can be inconvenient and time-consuming. A comprehensive dentist like Dr. Christine Ally can perform all steps of the implant procedure at her practice, making sure your new smile lasts a lifetime, without any complications.
4. Allergic Reaction
Sometimes patients who receive dental implants will have a perfectly successful procedure, but it isn’t until after when they have an allergic reaction to the titanium and it becomes an issue. If you’re allergic to the metal in implants, some symptoms you may notice are swelling, loss of taste, tingling or burning sensations, weakness, or rashes.
If you’re aware of your titanium allergy, let your implant dentist know beforehand so they can use another material for your treatment.
5. Difficulty Eating
Dental implants are made to restore complete function in your mouth. They help patients eat all their favorite foods, without any difficulty. After your first couple days to a week of recovery, you should be able to bite and chew just like you used to with your natural teeth.
If you can’t eat and notice tenderness while chewing, it may be a sign that your implant never bonded properly or the restoration was correctly attached. Your dentist will be able to determine if they’ll have to simply place a new restoration or if you’ll need a new implant altogether.
Factors that Contribute to Failure
Sometimes, certain factors in your life can influence the failure of your dental implants. Luckily, some of these risks can be controlled and minimized to help achieve success. Learn about them below.
- Medical Conditions: As mentioned above, gum disease can affect the supporting tissue of a dental implant and cause it to loosen. Diseases like osteoporosis can weaken the jawbone and make it difficult for the implant to attach. Additionally, Dr. Karen Guinn says stress can cause bruxism which can damage a healing implant and negatively impact overall oral health.
- Medications: Some medications such as antidepressants have been associated with implant failure as well. According to the research, antidepressants affect the rate of bone metabolism and can interrupt the osseointegration process from completing.
- Smoking: Tobacco use can also be a major risk factor that prevents your implant from healing. One study found that smoking can increase the possibility of a post-operative infection as well as further bone loss.
- Poor Implant Care: Another key factor that can greatly impact the success of your implant is post-op and long-term implant care. In order to maintain good oral health and avoid failure, it’s key to listen to your doctor’s recommendations as well as follow a proper hygiene routine.
Tips for Implant Success
Once you’ve had your smile restored with dental implants, it’s important to know that you still have the capability of influencing their success. The foods you eat, the products you use, and the oral hygiene routine you follow can make or break your new smile. Some important guidelines to follow for both good short and long-term success include:
- Don’t eat hard or sticky foods throughout your initial recovery
- Avoid smoking and drinking within the first week or two of healing
- Use any of the suggested dental products best for dental implants
- Brush twice a day, floss, and rinse with mouthwash daily
- Visit your dentist twice a year for your regular checkups
Without proper post-operative care, your dental implants may be at a higher risk for complications and eventually failure. Be sure to speak with your implant dentist if you have any questions or concerns after your procedure so they can fix any issues and help you smile without hesitation again.