For the right candidate, a dental implant can be the ideal way to replace one or more missing teeth. Dental implants look and feel natural, almost as if they were your natural teeth. Unlike dentures, you don’t have to remove them at night for cleaning, so there is no risk that you will lose them or accidentally swallow them.
Dental implants are usually successful, provided that patients follow the instructions given by their dentist and provided that there are no complications during or after the surgery. But there is always the risk of failure or other problems with implant placement, as there is with any type of medical or dental procedure.
Understanding the causes of implant failure can help you avoid them and protect your replacement teeth. Knowing what signs to look out for can allow you to get the help you need if your implants do cause trouble.
Common Causes of Implant Failure
You might have a problem with a dental implant for a number of reasons. Some of the causes of implant failure are within your control, while others might not be. For example, continuing to smoke after receiving a dental implant can increase its risk of failing.
Smoking interferes with the flow of blood to your gums. The reduced blood flow can interfere with the healing process, meaning that the implant might not integrate into the bone as well as it otherwise would. People who smoke tend to have a higher rate of implant failure than non-smokers.
Other causes of implant failure include uncontrolled medical conditions, such as diabetes or untreated gum disease. Usually, a dentist will ask that a patient get their diabetes under control and will recommend treating gum disease before placing an implant.
How you care for your teeth and gums after receiving an implant can also affect its longevity. If you don’t brush or floss daily and skip out on appointments with your dentist for routine cleanings and exams, you might have a higher risk of implant failure compared with someone who does develop and stick with a regular oral hygiene routine.
In some cases, implant failure is outside of your control. If the dentist who placed the implant was inexperienced or didn’t know how to properly perform the procedure, there is a higher risk of failure.
How Do You Know if Your Dental Implant Has Failed?
One of the most common signs of implant failure is movement of the implant. You might notice that the implant feels loose or that it “wiggles” when you chew or speak. In the earliest stages of implant failure, the movement might be imperceptible. As the failure advances, you’ll be more likely to notice the movement on your own.
Other signs of implant failure can include infection at the site of the implant. You might see some swelling in the area, or you might feel some discomfort around the implant when you chew or speak.
What You Can Do About a Failed Implant
Your treatment options if one or more of your implants has failed vary based on the cause of the failure. In a few cases, removing the implant might be the best option. In others, your periodontist can take steps to repair the damage, so that you can keep the implant.
For example, if the implant hasn’t been able to bond with the bone adequately, your dentist might use tissue grafts to build up the area surrounding the implant and to increase the likelihood of it fusing to the bone.
In the case of infection, your periodontist might perform the LAPIP procedure to remove any bacteria and infectious agents from the area and to encourage the growth of healthy tissue. They might also give you a course of antibiotics and clean the area in the office with antibacterial products to help clear up any infections.
Fortunately, dental implant failure is relatively rare and only occurs in about 5% of cases. The good news is that if your implant does fail, you will usually have options to correct the issue and restore the implant, rather than having it taken out.
Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami area who also specializes in dental implants and treatments for implant failure. If you have an implant that you are concerned about, call 305-547-8687 today to schedule an appointment in Miami, FL.