Dental implant procedures are typically successful. While failure is rare, it does happen. If this does occur, don't panic — our dentists at Cloverdale Crossing Dental Group list what to look for and what may be next if your dental implant fails or doesn't function properly.
How do dental implants work?
Most conventional dental implants have three components:
- A titanium part that bonds with the bone through osseointegration
- An attachment (abutment)
- A crown, which is fixed to the abutment and aligns with your existing teeth
If one of these parts becomes loose or gets broken, issues with any of the three parts may develop.
While implants are constructed from metal, the biological process we call osseointegration is what makes them work. During osseointegration, living bone cells produced by the body grow to surround the implant surface and anchor it to your jawbone. Healthy bone will continue to grow around the implant over time. That said, if osseointegration doesn't unfold the way it should, it can occasionally lead to problems following implantation.
What are the signs of a failing dental implant?
If the bone has not grown properly around the implant and osseointegration has not occurred or progressed include infection, pain or swelling around the implant site — but keep in mind that this is not always true.
The implant may also start to wobble and move slightly when you chew or talk (there's a chance that only your dentist will be able to detect this movement at first). A failed implant will be movable. If your dentist sees that this is the case for you, they may recommend an X-Ray to assess your bone growth, which will likely allow us to see significant bone loss around the metal part of the dental implant.
What is the risk that my dental implant will fail?
While most dental implants are successful, some people are at increased risk for dental implant failure. If you have any of these, another tooth replacement alternative may be a better option:
- Conditions such as bruxism or gum disease (can damage a healing implant)
- Diseases such as osteoporosis which can affect bone strength and density
- Ongoing cancer treatment
- Some medications
What should I do if I have a problem with my dental implant?
If you notice a problem with your dental implant, your dentist can remove a failed implant while you are under local anesthesia. No bone graft will be required if the bone surrounding the area of the removed implant is intact.
If bone loss is detected, your dentist may recommend a bone graft to strengthen the area before replacing the failed implant with a new one. The bone graft will need to heal before a new implant is placed. While the area heals, your dentist will explain how you can reduce the risk of failure, such as waiting to complete treatments for certain conditions, quitting smoking or other measures. .
How can I avoid complications with my dental implant?
Before placing your implant, your dentist will ask about risk factors that may limit your success with this treatment method. Always inform your dentist of any changes to your medical or health history such as changing medications or medical conditions, since these can impact osseointegration and healing.
Maintaining great oral hygiene is also critical to avoiding problems with your dental implant. Remember to brush twice daily and rinse with antibacterial mouthwash to keep your gums healthy and free of bacteria while your new tooth settles.