Similar to other surgical procedures, there are several factors that can potentially cause complications or complete failure of dental implants. Some of these factors are due to a malfunction of the materials and procedures used while others are a result of the patients general health and hygiene.
Although it is very unlikely to have complications arise after receiving dental implants, with approximately 98% of patients having no complications at all, it is still a slight possibility that anyone planning to get dental implants should be aware of.
In this article we will explain certain risk factors that should be considered and address some of the things that can go wrong with dental implants.
Risk Factors That Increase The Chance Of Complications
During the assessment phase of the dental implant procedure, your dentist will look at your medical history and ask about some of your habits to determine if you are at an increased risk for complications. Some of the things that may cause reason for concern are:
- People who have a habit of grinding their teeth
- Inadequate jawbone height, width or density
- People who are taking bisphosphonates
- Type 2 diabetes
If any of these risk factors apply to you, there may be some preliminary procedures or lifestyle changes that your dentist will recommend before proceeding with dental implants. Your dentist will only decide against dental implants in extreme cases where they believe that complications will undoubtedly arise.
Dental Implants Failing To Osseointegrate With The Jawbone
Osseointegration between the titanium implant and jawbone is by far the most important part of the dental implants procedure. If this step fails, the implant will not be strong enough to support occlusal forces in the mouth causing it to eventually fail.
Osseointegration is considered a failure if after several months of healing time the implant is mobile, falls out completely or there is bone loss in the surrounding jawbone of more than 1 mm after the first year. There are various reasons that osseointegration may fail, including:
- Jawbone density or volume that is insufficient to support an implant
- Overloading on a recently placed implant
- Incorrect placement of the implant
- An implant that becomes fractured after being placed
If osseointegration does fail you will need to begin the entire dental implants procedure once again, possibly requiring some additional procedures such as bone grafting to ensure that it does not fail again.
Infection Of The Surgical Area
One of the most common reasons for dental implant failure occurs as a result of an infection at the dental implant site. Some of the reasons for these infections are from poor oral hygiene after the implant surgery, bacteria that is present during the implant surgery or from dental cement used to secure crowns getting trapped under the gum tissue.
When an infection occurs there is usually inflammation of the gum tissue or bone around the implant which can sometimes be treated but most often requires removal of the implant. There is a higher risk of infection for patients who are smokers, have diabetes or have poor oral hygiene.
Rejection Of The Implant
In rare cases, the patient’s body may reject having a foreign object implanted into their jawbone, similar to rejection that can occur in organ transplants. The body may also reject a dental implant if a patient has an allergic reaction to titanium. Although allergic reactions to titanium are very rare, they do occur sometimes and are usually accompanied by swelling of the implant site.
Damage To Surrounding Nerves Or Tissue
During any type of surgery there is always a small risk of damage to surrounding tissues or nerves. This is extremely rare and is almost always caused by poor placement from an inexperienced dentist. When an implant is placed too close to a nerve or there is damage to surrounding tissues, you may experience pain or numbness in gums, tongue, cheek or lips.
What You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Complications After A Dental Implant Surgery
It is normal to experience bleeding, swelling and some pain for a few days after surgery but if these symptoms remain for more than 5 days after having dental implants placed, contact your dentist right away so that any potential issues can be fixed immediately. The sooner you act when an implant is failing, the higher chance that your dentist will be able to fix the problem without having to remove your dental implant.
If your dental implants fail more than once, either your dentist is not doing a good job and should provide a full refund to you, or there is a problem with your oral health and an alternative solution should be presented to you by your dentist.