Dental Implant Removal: Causes, Methods, Pain & Cost

In the dental implant world, we hear terms like “fixed” and “permanent,” but do those mean what we think they mean? Can’t dental implants be removed?

Can Dental Implants Be Removed?

For it to be necessary for a dental specialist to remove an implant, it has to have failed. The possible reasons for the failure are many, but there are two main categories: early and late failures.

Early Implant Failures

An early failure happens within the first few months after the implant placement. Whether the failure is from infection, an unsuccessful osseointegration period, or too much movement happening during the healing process, a specialist can remove the implant because it has not fused to the jawbone.

Late Failures

A late failure can happen anytime after a year from the placement. It could have failed due to infection (like peri-implantitis), too much force, or the implant just becoming loose, these are also easy to remove.

Are Some Dental Implants Easier To Remove Than Others?

The main factor that determines the difficulty of an implant removal is the jawbone quality. Generally speaking, implants in the lower jaw are more difficult to remove, but implants in the upper jaw can also be feisty too.

Another thing that can make the process more difficult is the amount of time that has passed. If it has been longer than two years since an implant, the implant will have fused more firmly and will be tougher to remove.

And yet another deterrent to removing an implant is its size. Obviously, the longer and wider an implant is, the harder it will be to get out of the jaw. On the other hand, very thin implants can be tough too because they are more likely to fracture when the specialist tries to do the removal.

Also, if an implant is near a nerve or a sinus cavity, the specialist will need to be extra careful and steady-handed. Damaging either would not be good.

Dental Implant Removal Procedure

If a dental implant does need to be removed, there are two situations where the removal procedure is necessary: a non-osseointegrated implant and an osseointegrated implant.

In both cases, the removal procedure would look similar to the placement surgery. You would probably go under anesthesia and the specialist would use their tools to remove the crown, take out the abutment, and finally remove the implant.

Removal Of A Non-Osseointegrated Implant

If absolutely necessary, a specialist can remove an implant that has not integrated with the bone within 48 hours of the placement. The situations that may require the removal of a non-osseointegrated implant include complications with the placement surgery, poor positioning, broken pieces of the implant, infection, or simply if the patient asks for it to be removed.

Removal Of An Osseointegrated Implant

If a dental implant has successfully integrated with the bone, it’s up to the specialist to determine if the implant should come out. Reasons for removal can include, unsatisfactory osseointegration, infections like peri-implantitis, poor positioning of the implant, or if the patient asks to have it removed.

Dental Implant Removal Method And Tools Used

Dental instruments closeup on the dental chairThe tools a specialist will use to remove an implant work in a similar way to a screw and screwdriver. The tool fits into a notch or groove in the implant (the crown must first be removed) and the specialist will, basically speaking, unscrew the dental implant. Obviously, it’s more nuanced than that, but that’s just to give you a general idea of the procedure.

Removing Stripped Dental Implant Screws

A “stripped” implant screw is an implant that can no longer engage with the removal tool. Basically, the groove of the implant has been misshapen so much that it doesn’t match the corresponding hexagonal shape of the tool.

So what happens in this case?

The specialist will make a “slot” or a new groove in the implant. Then they will use a different tool that fits that new slot, and therefore be able to remove the implant.

What To Do After Dental Implant Removal

After you get a failed dental implant removed, there are a number of follow-up options. The choice you and the dental specialist make depends on your specific situation.

But here are a few treatment options after the removal of a dental implant:

  • Getting a new dental implant: if the surgical site is clean, without infection, and has sufficient amount of bone for support, you can get a brand new implant placed right away.
  • Getting a bone graft: after the bone graft to restore bone support, it will require 4-6 months of healing before placing a new dental implant.
  • Not getting immediate treatment: the specialist may want to let the gum tissue heal for about two months before re-examining the site to see if it’s ready for a new implant. A bone graft may enter the discussion as well.

Pain After A Dental Implant Removal

Man suffering toothacheMany people wonder: is removing a dental implant painful? The short answer is yes.

You will most likely have pain after getting the implant removed, but it shouldn’t be too intense or long-lasting. The level and duration of pain you can expect is similar to when you got the implant placed — pain that responds to medication and lasts a few days to a week or so.

If the pain persists for over two weeks or gets worse, contact your dentist right away.

Dental Implant Removal Cost

Just like the cost of placing a dental implant, the cost of removing one depends on where you’re located. Usually, getting dental care outside of the United States is cheaper. But within the U.S., it could cost anywhere between $500 and $1,000 to remove a failed dental implant.

This range can also vary depending on if any bone regenerating procedures are necessary (like a bone graft), how many dental implants should be removed, and if a new dental implant will replace it.