Dental implant procedures are typically successful and failure is rare. That said, failure can occur. If it does, no need to panic — our Summerland dentists at Jubilee Dental Centre explain what to look for and what might be next if your implant fails.
How does a dental implant work?
Most conventional dental implants have three parts:
- A titanium component that bonds with the bone through osseointegration
- An abutment (attachment)
- A crown fixed to the attachment, which aligns with your existing teeth
If one of these components is broken or becomes loose, issues with any of these parts may become a problem.
While metal is used to make implants, whether they function correctly depends on the osseointegration process unfolding appropriately. Throughout this biological process, the body produces living bone cells, which eventually grow and surround the surface of the implant and anchor it to your jawbone. Healthy bone will gradually begin to grow around the implant.
That said, if osseointegration does not occur the way it should, this can occasionally lead to issues after implantation.
What are signs of a failing dental implant?
If osseointegration has not happened or progressed properly, or if the bone has not developed correctly around the dental implant, swelling, pain or infection may occur around the implant site. However, this is not always the case.
An implant might also start to move or wobble slightly when a patient speaks or chews (your dentist might be the first person to detect this movement). Dental implants should not shift. If your dentist does notice that your implant is shifting, they may recommend an X-ray to check your bone growth. This will likely allow us to see whether any significant bone loss has occurred surrounding the implant's metal component.
What is the risk of my dental implant failing?
While most dental implant procedures will be successful, some patients will face an increased risk of their dental implant failing If you have any of these risk factors, your dentist may recommend you consider another tooth replacement option:
- Ongoing cancer treatment
- Some medications
- Conditions such as bruxism or gum disease (can damage a healing implant)
- Diseases such as osteoporosis that can impact bone density and strength
What should I do if I notice an issue with my dental implant?
If you notice an issue with your dental implant, contact your dentist to schedule an examination. Your dentist will be able to remove a failed implant while you are under local anesthesia. No bone graft will be required if the bone surrounding the area of the implant being removed is intact.
If your dentist does detect bone loss, a bone graft may be recommended to strengthen the area before your failed implant can be replaced with a new one. The bone graft will need to heal before a new implant is placed. During this time, your dentist will brief you on how you can reduce the risk of failure, such as waiting to complete other dental treatments depending on the condition, quitting smoking or taking other measures or making lifestyle changes.
How can I reduce the risk of complications with my dental implant?
Before your dentist places your implant, you'll be asked about risk factors that can threaten the success of your treatment plan. Always tell your dentist about any changes in your medical history or health, such as changes in medications or medical conditions, as these can impact osseointegration and healing.
One way for patients to avoid dental implant problems is to maintain excellent oral hygiene. Remember to brush twice each day and rinse with antibacterial mouthwash to keep your gums healthy and free of bacteria while your new tooth settles.