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Common Causes of Dental Implant Failure

What are the causes of a dental implant complication or failure? Depending on the individual, it can vary. For many patients, it will depend on any bad habits they have, their health status, and the surgeon who placed their implants. Fortunately, dental implants failure isn’t all that common. The good news is that modern treatment techniques provide an extremely high success rate. If you have missing teeth and are considering investing in dental implants—or you’re worried about the implants you already have—here are some things to be aware of.

What causes a failed dental implant?

The success of an implant procedure depends on many factors, but certain habits and medical conditions can increase your risk of a wobbling implant. Gum disease and bruxism (Teeth Grinding) can damage a healing implant, while diseases like osteoporosis that attack bone strength and density can make it difficult for the implant screw to anchor. Ongoing cancer treatment may also be cause to pause an implant, since radiation therapy can sometimes inhibit the bones’ ability to heal. Some medications can also put you at risk for implant failure. According to the University at Buffalo, a compound in antidepressants that affects your rate of bone metabolism can cause osseointegration problems for people who take these medications. Smoking may increase your risk of dental implant failure depending on where in your mouth the implant is placed.

Causes of Failed Dental Implants

  • Gum disease (Peri-Implantitis)
  • Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer treatment/Radiation Therapy
  • Some medications
  • Smoking
  • Inadequate imaging
  • Incomplete medical Information

Gum Infection Around the Implant

The most common reason why dental implants fail is because of an infection in the jawbone around dental implants, called peri-implantitis. Although implants cannot develop tooth decay, they are still susceptible to the implant form of gum disease. Peri-implantitis is when plaque and bacteria cover the implant surface and seep under the gumlines, causing gum tissue to become inflamed, pull back from the implant, and then subsequently cause bone loss. Remember, you rely on healthy jaw bone to support your implant, which is why a bone graft may be necessary for people with extensive tooth loss. Good oral hygiene is essential to preventing a failed dental implant. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, you’ll want to have your implant dentist evaluate your oral cavity at least twice a year, even if you have full arch implants and no remaining teeth.

Sinus Perforation

Another type of infection that can cause severe pain is due to poor placement at the implant site. In implant dentistry, there are many factors to keep in mind, such as the location of nerve and blood vessels, bone anatomy around the implant, and even the lining of your nasal sinuses. A dental implant procedure that involves implant placement in the upper arch should be performed by an experienced implant surgeon. If placed incorrectly, the dental implant procedure can cause the tip of the implant to perforate through the lining of the nasal sinuses. Especially if the patient has gone quite some time with missing teeth (because the sinus linings drop.) Pain, infection, and bone loss are common symptoms. Today’s advanced technology, such as 3D imaging—when paired with a skilled surgeon—ensures dental implant success even when sinus linings have dropped.

Poor Bone Health

Ultimately if you have a bone disease like peri-implantitis or extensive resorption from tooth loss and poor oral hygiene, you can lose both your natural teeth as well as your new implants. Left untreated, gum disease will eventually cause bone shrinkage throughout your mouth. A new implant exposed to chewing forces overload from biting and chewing would cause excessive stress on the bone in that location. Combined with issues like teeth grinding or poor health, the dental implant success rate drops significantly. Sometimes augmentation (bone grafting) is used in your treatment plan to stabilize your jaw and any adjacent teeth. But signs of dental bone graft failure are similar to gum disease, jeopardizing the integrity of your smile. If you’ve ever wondered if you have bone loss, you can ask our periodontist or dental hygienist during your routine checkup.

Medications

Certain medications and procedures like radiation therapy can impact your bone density. Always be sure to review your medications and supplements with your surgeon ahead of time. If you have insufficient bone, they can perform detective work to see if it’s related to your medication regimen or an inflammatory response before recommending something like a supporting bone graft. Even with good oral hygiene, certain medications do contraindicate tooth replacement with implants. When needed, your implant specialist should communicate with your primary care physician and specialists to clear you ahead of time.

Faulty Placement of the Implant

Unfortunately, one of the factors of why dental implants fail is the way the implant is installed. After screening for overall health issues and ruling out osseointegration problems, the most dangerous causes of dental implant complications is not having a provider install it properly. Without adequate training and experience—especially in more complicated cases—a dentist may place the implant in a manner that is set up for failure from the very beginning. Perhaps the implant is next to a sinus lining, and adequate grafting wasn’t performed, or the bone ridge was so narrow that it wasn’t stable enough to withstand biting pressure.

What to Do if Your Implants are Failing

Fortunately, there’s good news. Our implant surgeons can assist patients who have experienced implant complications and failure, providing re-treatment and fixed restorations like crowns and bridges as needed. It’s important to act quickly if you notice signs of bleeding gums, swelling, pain, or implant mobility. Identifying an implant surgeon in Washington, DC with experience managing more complicated cases will be extremely helpful. In the best case scenario, your implant can be reinforced with soft tissue therapy and bone grafting or repositioned altogether. The key is to have experience on your side, as implant failure, in general, is extremely uncommon. So, when it does happen, you need someone who is highly trained in all aspects of implant therapy and full mouth reconstruction.

Dental Implant Repair Specialist in Washington, DC

Dental implant failure causes tend to be consistent from person to person. By being educated, prepared, and understanding the common causes of dental implant failure, you can protect the health of your mouth, teeth, implants, and gums for decades to come. Drs. Abron, Miller, Shebli and Porzio are one of the most highly trained dental implant surgeons in the Washington, DC and DMV metro area. Their experience providing tooth replacement for patients of all backgrounds speaks for itself. In some cases, individuals who received implant treatment elsewhere even come to us for the repair of failing implants.

Request an appointment here, or call DC Perio and Implants at (202) 659 - 3500 for an appointment in Washington, DC with our doctors, Dr. Shebli Mehrazarin & Dr. Armin Abron

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