Did you know that up to 10 percent of dental implants fail either after a procedure or years later? Dental implants are a natural-looking restoration option used to support damaged or missing teeth.
Through a process called osseointegration, the implant fixture acts like a tooth’s root to hold your implant in place. This allows the implants to become a durable base for tooth replacements that feel and function just like your natural teeth. Typically, dental implants consist of three parts:
- An implant fixture, made of biocompatible titanium. that’s placed in your jawbone to bond with your natural bone and create a strong foundation.
- An attachment or abutment that’s placed on the surface of your implant to hold and support your porcelain dental crown.
- A crown that’s custom-made to resemble your natural teeth and fit perfectly in your mouth. It’s secured to the attachment and aligned with your surrounding teeth.
Many dentists like Dr. Michael Carley provide various implant solutions such as single, multi-tooth, and full-arch replacements. These effective, long-lasting solutions give patients the confidence to smile again with fully restored teeth.
Reasons for Dental Implant Failure
There are numerous factors that can influence the success of a dental implant. Some of them may include gum disease, insufficient jawbone, poor oral hygiene, and serious medical conditions. Smokers are also twice as likely to suffer from implant failure compared to non-smokers, according to a 2009 study.
It’s common to experience pain and swelling following implant surgery. As with any procedure, complications may develop after the procedure or even years later. Learn about the reasons for early and late or long-term implant failure.
Early dental implant failure occurs within the first three to four months after having the procedure. Complications take place during the process of the implant integrating with the jawbone. Common reasons for early implant failure include:
- Autoimmune disease
- Poor blood supply
- Poor oral health
- Allergic reaction
- Nerve or tissue damage
- Rejection of the implant
Another crucial reason is overloading, or failure caused by excessive force or pressure on the abutment and crown. Patients with poor bone density are at higher risk of overloading.
If pain lasts more than one week, it’s important to contact an experienced dentist like Dr. Joseph Thomas, as it can be a sign of early failure.
Late or Long-term Failure
Late or long-term implant failure can happen anywhere from one to ten years after surgery. Tobacco use, specifically smoking, is one of the leading reasons behind long-term failure. In addition, there are various causes for late failure such as:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Lack of gum tissue
- Lack of bone density
- Mechanical damages
An under-engineered procedure may also contribute to dental implant failure. This takes place when not enough implant fixtures are placed to support the new replacement teeth.
Symptoms of Dental Implant Failure
Recognizing the first signs of implant failure is critical in preventing serious complications. When the bone doesn’t grow correctly around the implant, the most prominent indication is often mobility. During this time, chewing and biting become challenging and daily functions can cause significant discomfort. Early and late-term signs to look out for are:
- Difficulty chewing or biting–tenderness while eating or simply biting down
- Pain or discomfort–if pain occurs without any incidents, it may be a sign of failure
- A loose or shifting implant–your implant should fit comfortably and securely in your mouth, it shouldn’t feel like a foreign object
- Gum swelling, inflammation or recession–marginal swelling is common, but if it persists, it’s necessary to contact your doctor immediately
Tips for Preventing Complications & Failure
It’s important to properly maintain your implants after the procedure to help prevent infection and complete failure. In certain cases, failure can’t be avoided due to unvarying factors but there are steps to help reduce the risk. Here are a few tips to support a successful implant:
- Regular brushing and flossing–don’t forget to use an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash.
- Schedule routine check-ups–visiting your dentist every six months is recommended
- Avoid tobacco use and smoking— to reduce your risk of implant failure
- Change your diet–increase your calcium intake to support strong bones and avoid eating rough foods to prevent damage
- Tackle your bruxism–if you grind your teeth, ask your dentist about a mouthguard
Many dentists like Dr. Brian Klym also recommend that you keep physical activity to a minimum and avoid spitting or sucking through a straw. Inflicting pressure on your gums can cause irregular blood flow to the implant site and interrupt the healing process.
Though about 95 percent of implants are successful, it’s still necessary to take preventative measures and maintain good oral hygiene. Following these easy steps can make a considerable impact on the success of your dental implant.