Tooth Implant Infection: Signs, Antibiotics & Complications (Photos Included)

The most common complication from dental implants some sort of infection. And the specific type of infection we see the most often is called peri-implantitis, a type of gum disease that can cause bone loss and even implant failure.

Infections are generally caused by bacteria, which can build up in the mouth right after surgery or even years later.

Rate Of Dental Implant Infections

According to a study by the University of Gothenburg, 50% of those with dental implants showed signs of peri-implantitis with 14.5% of that group having moderate to severe implications, like substantial bone loss.

So basically, half of dental implant patients may get some form of infection to varying degrees. That means the importance of care is extremely high.

Dental Implant Infection Symptoms And Causes

There are some signs and symptoms of a dental implant infection that you can keep an eye out for, just in case.

Here are the symptoms you may experience if you have an implant infection:

  • Continual bleeding after the first 24 following surgery
  • A fever that persists or gets worse after the first day
  • Throbbing pain that doesn’t respond to medication
  • Severe swelling

If you notice you have any of these symptoms, immediately call your dentist and schedule an appointment. The earlier you start fighting an infection, the better your overall denture experience will be.

And again, infection can happen right after surgery but also several weeks or months later.

Tooth Implant Infection Photos

Dental Implant Infection Treatment

If you notice any of these symptoms, speaking with your dentist will help. They will know how to diagnose a dental implant infection.

dental school studentsThe best treatment for an implant infection is preventative care. Good oral hygiene and a properly done procedure are the best deterrent to an infection.

However, if you do experience an infection, the treatment options depends on the stage of the infection.

If the infection happens right after the dental implant is placed, contact your dentist as soon as possible. They may want to put you on antibiotics or even replace the implant. The best option is to have a removal of the dental implant before the infection gets very bad.

On the other hand, if the infection occurs after the crown is placed, the treatments are not usually as successful. The dentist may adjust your bite on the implant, they may just clean around the implant, give you antibiotics, and/or they may refer you to a periodontist. In severe cases, the most effective strategy to rid the infection may be further surgery to replace or correct the implant.

What Happens When An Infection Goes Untreated?

If you believe you have an infection, do not delay in taking care of it. An untreated infection can lead to many things that will make your life more inconvenient.

Some of your jawbone may need to be removed if the infection persists untreated. At the very least, it could weaken your bone and jaw overall.

You could also lose teeth if you don’t take care of bacteria buildup. In addition to the dental implant being replaced, the surrounding natural teeth may need to be removed.

Man suffering toothacheAdditionally, the infection could spread to the soft tissues and sinuses. Because the roots of many upper teeth reach into the sinuses, the infection, if left undealt with, could easily spread to that area, leading to a painful sinus infection. Likewise, the bacteria can affect the mouth’s soft tissues, causing many issues, including trouble with your airways.

In severe cases, the infection can lead to septicemia, which is when your entire bloodstream is infected. The body’s natural response will be to increase the number of antibodies in your blood, meaning it will increase the amount of blood in the infected area.

When septicemia occurs from a dental implant infection, a small section of the infection ruptures, spilling into the blood and circulating throughout the rest of your body. This can be a life-threatening situation.

The infection can even spread to your brain, which is very dangerous and usually means you would need to stay in a hospital for treatment. The way it travels to the brain involves one of the above methods.

Can An Infected Dental Implant Be Saved?

In short, yes, a dental implant can be saved even after an infection. Through a method called the Laser Assisted Peri-implant Procedure (LAPIP), dentists have found success in stopping an infection and even regenerating bone in some cases.

But of course, the success of this type of treatment will vary from patient to patient. If LAPIP is unsuccessful or just not an option, your dentist can do a bone grafting and put in a replacement implant.

Use Of Antibiotics With A Dental Implant Infection

Antibiotics kill bacteria or stop them from growing and spreading. But if and when to use antibiotics for a dental implant procedure is a divisive issue among dentists. Generally speaking, they’re not mandatory, but many dentist prefer to use them.

Antibiotics can be effective for prevention and for postoperative infections and can really help the implant stay healthy long-term.

Antibiotics As Preventative Care

Just as antibiotics are used to prevent other infections (like urinary tract infections), they can be used to fight infections caused by a dental implant. On the other hand, some dentist say using antibiotics in preventative care is pointless, so your dentist may not believe they’re necessary.

Although antibiotics can help prevent bacteria from building up in your mouth, they are useless against viral or fungal infections.

Antibiotics As Treatment For Infection

Antibiotics are mostly used as a method for treating infection. With minimal bacteria, antibiotics should take care of the infection. But, as we mentioned before, if the infection gets too severe, antibiotics aren’t powerful enough to correct the issue and will need to defer to surgery.