Despite the many benefits of dental implants, they do have the potential to fail. We’ll take a look at how often they fail, why they fail, and how to prevent and care for failed implants.
The Rate Of Dental Implant Failures
The rate at which dental implants fail is about 5% — a small number, but when you consider how many people get implants, you realize a lot of people suffer from this. And the rate of failure can be due to many things.
Reasons For Dental Implant Failure
The factors for whether or not an implant(s) fails has a lot to do with how experienced the dentist is and how careful they were during the procedure.
But there are also many other reasons an implant could fail, and these reasons can cause either an early dental implant failure or late/long-term failure.
Early Dental Implant Failure
Early failure of dental implants usually happens within three to four months after the procedure during the process of the implant integrating with the jaw bone.
Here are some of the most common causes of early dental implant failure.
The dental implant failure rate with patients who have an autoimmune disease is higher than those without.
An autoimmune disease are basically illness that causes the body’s immune system to fight against itself, attacking and damaging the body’s tissues. This can lead to a high probability of the body rejecting an implant.
Types of autoimmune diseases include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Celiac disease
Poor Blood Supply
Blood clots open wounds and carries nutrients needed for the body to heal. So if after getting implant you have a lack of blood rushing to the surgical area, the healing process will be slowed or even halted.
This poor blood supply could be from a blood disease, a blood clot elsewhere in the body, or an autoimmune disease.
Some medications can get in the way of the success of dental implants. That’s why it’s so important to be completely upfront with your dentist about the medications you take or have taken in the past.
One example are bisphosphonates, which is a type of medication used to treat osteoporosis.
If you don’t take good care of your teeth, gums, and entire body, this can affect the success of dental implants. They will be less likely to integrate with an unhealthy body than with a healthy body.
Infections can destroy an implant’s chances of successfully integrating.
One of the most common infections that affects dental implants is peri-implantitis, a type of gum disease. This infection can begin during or after the surgery, whether it’s because there’s an open wound or because of the dental cement, which can leak under the crown and get stuck in the gums.
In most cases of peri-implantitis, it requires a dental implant failure replacement. Patients with an autoimmune disease, those who smoke, or those with bad oral hygiene are more likely to get this infection.
In a typical implant procedure, the dentist will complete it in two stages: insertion of the implant and the placing of the abutment and crown. The time in between these two stages allows the implant to fuse to the jawbone before placing the abutment and crown.
But sometimes the dentist will do what’s call an “immediate loading procedure.” This is where both stages are done one right after the other. It makes the treatment time shorter, requires less surgical care afterwards, and can lead to a quicker recovery.
However, this way of doing the procedure can lead to overloading, an implant failure caused by excessive force or pressure on the abutment and crown. This can especially be a problem if the patient has poor bone density.
Rejection Of The Foreign Body
As is the case with any organ transplant, the patient’s body can reject the implant. Although it’s rare, it’s still possible. Basically, the body sees the implant as a malignant foreign body and rejects its integration. This leads to a loose and/or failed implant.
Most dental implants are made of titanium alloy and can sometimes have small traces of nickel. This can cause an allergic inflammatory reaction in some patients. The reaction can be a tingling or burning feeling (more on symptoms below).
If the nerves or tissue surrounding the implant are damaged, the patient can feel ongoing pain or numbness after the procedure. The sensations can spread from the area to the cheek, tongue, chin, and lips.
In most cases, nerve damage is due to an inexperienced dentist making placing the implant too close to a nerve. No matter how experienced the dentist, minimal tissue damage is expected. But if the damage is extreme, that can be due to the surgeon’s mistake.
Late Or Long-Term Failure
If a dental implant fails anywhere from one to 10 years after the procedure, this is considered a late/long-term failure. There are several factors that can contribute to a late dental implant failure.
An un under-engineered procedure means that there are too few implants to support the replacement teeth. This leads to too much stress on the implants. This can be because the dentist was not knowledgeable or experienced enough to know how many implants to use.
Smokers who need dental implants are at a higher risk of experiencing a failed implant, anywhere between 6.5% to 20%, according to the Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry.
So smoking is definitely a risk factor in failed dental implants, but it can still be done. Your smoking history is something your dentist will as about before scheduling the procedure. And for overall dental health, smokers should try to stop (as their dentists have surely recommended already).
Bruxism is a fancy word for repetitive teeth grinding or clenching, and it’s actually common.
It can happen for many reasons, like stress, misaligned teeth, or missing teeth. This grinding or clenching puts extra pressure on the teeth and causes them to wear down or be damaged. Usually, bruxism happens overnight while a person is sleeping.
Bruxism can make it difficult for an implant to integrate with the jaw bone because excessive pressure on the teeth and implant and hurt the process. If it persists, it can lead to a failed implant.
Poor Oral Hygiene
If a dental implant patient doesn’t take care of their gums and teeth, this can lead to gum disease and infections. And as we mentioned earlier, those things can cause implants to fail.
Lack Of Gum Tissue
The amount of gum tissue determines the quality of the seal around the implants — the more tissue, the better the seal. So if a patient lacks the adequate amount of gum tissue, this can cause the implants to loosen and eventually fail.
Head And Neck Radiation
If a patient has had head and/or neck cancer (including and especially mouth cancer) and has been treated with radiation therapy, this can increase the risk of implant failure.
Lack Of Bone
Patients who don’t have sufficient bone to support an implant, bacteria can get in there and infect the site. It’s difficult for the body to rid this small and crowded area of bacteria, and the dentist may need to replace the implant.
Just as with early dental implant failures, infections can affect implants in the long run. Bacteria can get under the gums and cause an infection, slowly eating away at the implant cement and the surrounding areas.
Obviously, if an implant is damaged (from an injury to the mouth/teeth), that can cause it to fail. If it’s left uncared for, the dentist may eventually have to replace the implant.
Symptoms Of A Dental Implant Failure
So how will you know if you’re experiencing a problem? What are the signs of a dental implant failure?
As we covered above, there can be many reasons a dental implant fails. But the symptoms for all the reason are generally the same.
Here are the main symptoms and signs of late and early dental implant failure you should look out for:
- Severe pain or discomfort
- A loose or shifting implant
- Swelling or inflammation of the gums
- Gum recessions around dental implant
- Difficulty chewing and biting
Treatment For Dental Implant Failure
So after you’ve experience one or more of these symptoms, what can you do to care for you dental implant? What are the treatment options?
How you take care pf the potential failure depends on the cause. But no matter what the cause is, the first thing you should do is contact your dentist.
If the implant area is infected, try to gently clean the area on a regular basis until you can meet with your dentist. Good oral hygiene is also very important in these cases. The sooner you notice an infection and get it taken care of, the better.
On the other hand, if the implant is failing because of too much stress or damage, your dentist may need to graft som bone in order to make it more secure.
Tips For Dental Implant Failure Prevention
Before you start experiencing symptoms, the best way to avoid problems is to properly maintain your dental implants, helping you to avoid implant failure.
First, you can do this by keeping up good oral hygiene, brushing and flossing twice a day and using alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash.
Second, scheduling regular visits to your dentist is crucial to the health of not only your dental implant, but your overall mouth health. It’s best to schedule an appointment every three to six months.
Third, you may want to consider updating your diet to eat more bone- and gum-healthy foods, like milk, eggs, and fish. And you should also avoid hard foods and candies to prevent damage to the implant.
After reading this article, you may feel worried that your implant will fail. But remember, about 95% of implants are successful, so it’s actually a rare occurrence. Plus, now you know how to best prevent and avoid an implant failure.
However, if this does end up happening to you, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to combat and correct the problem.