Understanding Dental Implant Failure

Dental implant failure, while relatively rare, is a complication that all potential implant patients should be aware of.

Whether it’s during the initial healing period or years after the surgical placement, implant failure can be a major setback. Understanding why implants fail and taking steps to prevent failure improves the chances of long-term success and stability.

Early Implant Failure

Early implant failure refers to the loss of the dental implant within the first few months after surgery, typically before the osseointegration process is completed.

Early failure can be caused by several factors, including poor bone quality or quantity, infection at the implant site, or insufficient initial stability of the implant. 

Preventing early implant failure involves thorough patient evaluation, meticulous surgical technique, and strict adherence to post-operative care instructions.

Late Implant Failure

Late implant failure occurs after the implant has successfully integrated with the bone, usually several years post-surgery.

This type of failure is often associated with factors such as improper loading of the implant, lack of proper oral hygiene leading to peri-implantitis, or systemic conditions that affect bone metabolism.

Unlike early failures, late failures can be more challenging to address since they involve both the loss of the implant and potential deterioration of surrounding bone and tissues. 

Regular dental examinations and preventive care are essential in identifying and managing potential risks that may result in delayed implant failure.

Causes of Dental Implant Failure

Poor Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene increases your chances of developing gum disease, which is one of the most common causes of dental implant failure.

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, begins as a bacterial infection in the gum tissue surrounding the teeth or dental implant. This condition can lead to inflammation, redness, and bleeding of the gums, compromising the integrity of the implant by affecting the bone and soft tissue.

If left untreated, the progressive nature of gum disease can result in the deterioration of the bone structure that anchors the implant, leading to loosening and eventually, implant failure.

Complications Due to Infections

Infections caused by poor oral hygiene often begin as simple issues like gingivitis but can eventually escalate to more severe complications such as peri-implantitis. This specific infection affects the gums and the bone structure supporting the implant, leading to potential failure if not promptly addressed.

Similarly, systemic health conditions like diabetes or autoimmune diseases can compromise the body’s immune response, making it more susceptible to infections. For individuals with these conditions, even minor gum infections can progress rapidly, affecting the implant’s stability.

Smoking and Tobacco Use

Studies have shown that “implants placed in smokers present a 140.2% higher risk of failure than implants placed in non-smokers.”

Smoking and other forms of tobacco use are significant risk factors for dental implant failure. Tobacco products contain harmful substances that can impair blood flow and prevent proper healing, leading to complications such as infections or bone loss around the implant.

Additionally, smoking weakens the body’s immune response, increasing the chances of developing gum disease and other oral health issues that can compromise the implant’s stability.

Quitting smoking before getting dental implants is highly recommended for a successful outcome.

Insufficient Bone Density

Dental implants require a sufficient amount of healthy bone structure to support and integrate with the implant. Insufficient bone density can be due to natural causes like age-related bone loss or previous tooth extractions.

In some cases, bone grafting procedures may be required to strengthen the jaw bone before dental implant placement. If the implant is placed in an area with insufficient bone density, it may not be able to support the prosthetic tooth leading to implant failure.

Improper Placement of Implant

If the implant positioning during surgery isn’t accurate, it could fail to integrate correctly with the bone, ultimately leading to implant failure. This can occur for several reasons, such as inadequate training or experience of the surgeon or inadequate imaging.

To prevent this from happening, it is important to choose a qualified and experienced dental professional for your implant surgery. They will have the necessary skills and knowledge to assess your unique case and plan the placement of the implant precisely for optimal success.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism is a common condition that can put excessive pressure on the implant and cause it to fail.

People with bruxism are often unaware of the habit because they grind their teeth while sleeping. The constant force and movement exerted by bruxism can loosen the implant, leading to failure.

Your dentist may recommend a night guard or other protective measures to prevent bruxism from damaging your dental implant.

Signs of Dental Implant Failure

The signs of dental implant failure can vary, depending on the cause and stage of failure. Some common symptoms to look out for include:

  • Pain or discomfort around the implant site
  • Swelling or redness in the gums
  • Loosening of the implant
  • Difficulty chewing or biting down
  • Shift in position or mobility of the prosthetic tooth

If you notice any of these signs, visit your periodontist or oral surgeon immediately for an evaluation. Early detection and prompt treatment can prevent further complications and increase the chances of saving the implant.

Preventing Dental Implant Failure

While some risk factors for dental implant failure, such as age and systemic health conditions, cannot be controlled, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of failure.

  1. Choose a qualified and experienced dental professional

Choosing a skilled and experienced dental professional for your implant surgery is crucial. They will have the necessary expertise to assess your unique case, plan the placement of the implant accurately, and provide proper aftercare instructions.

  1. Share all of your medical history with your provider

Disclose any pre-existing medical conditions, medications, or supplements you are taking before getting dental implants. Some health conditions and medications can increase the risk of implant failure, and your provider needs to be aware of them to provide proper care.

  1. Stay committed to oral hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for the health of your teeth and dental implants. Brush twice a day, floss daily, and use an antibacterial mouthwash to help prevent bacteria buildup and gum disease.

  1. Quit smoking

As mentioned earlier, smoking has been linked to a higher risk of implant failure. Quitting smoking before getting dental implants can significantly improve the chances of successful integration and long-term stability. 

  1. Follow post-surgery care instructions

Following post-surgery care instructions is essential in promoting proper healing and ensuring the long-term success of dental implants. 

  1. Regular dental check-ups

Regular dental check-ups allow your dentist to monitor the health of your dental implant and catch any potential issues early on. They can also provide professional cleanings to prevent bacteria buildup and maintain overall oral health.

  1. Eat a healthy diet

A balanced and nutrient-rich diet supports overall health, including the health of your teeth and dental implants. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D can help improve bone density and support the integration of the implant with the jawbone.

Failed Dental Implant Treatment Options

In some cases, despite taking all the necessary precautions, a dental implant can still fail. However, there are treatment options available to address this issue.

Implant Removal and Replacement

If the implant has failed due to improper placement or insufficient bone density, it may need to be removed and replaced with a new one. This procedure can only be done once the area has healed completely.

Bone Grafting

If the failed implant is due to insufficient bone density, a bone grafting procedure may be necessary to strengthen the jawbone before attempting another implant placement.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy can help stimulate tissue regeneration and promote healing around the implant site. This treatment can improve the chances of saving a failing implant by promoting osseointegration.

Denture or Bridge

If the failed implant cannot be saved, your dentist may recommend a denture or bridge as an alternative solution to replace the missing tooth.

Dental Implants in Highlands Ranch

While dental implants have a high success rate, they can still fail. However, with proper planning and care, you can minimize the risk of failure and enjoy the benefits of a beautiful and functional smile for years to come.

Our experienced periodontists, Dr. Mike Norouzinia,DDS, and Dr. Kerri Font, DDS, specialize in dental implant surgery and have helped many patients achieve a successful outcome.

If you are considering dental implants in Highlands Ranch, CO, contact our office to schedule a consultation today. We will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique needs and goals. 

Don’t let fear of failure hold you back from achieving the smile of your dreams – trust our team to provide excellent care and support throughout your implant journey. 

If you are searching for ‘dental implants in Highlands Ranch’ or a ‘dental implant periodontist near me,’ we can help! To book a dental implant consultation with Dr. Mike Norouzinia or Dr. Kerri Font, call (303) 683-1144 or complete the online booking form!

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