Dental Implant Failure
Dental implants have one of the highest long-term success rates of any tooth replacement option at about 95 percent. However, dental implants can fail if they do not fully fuse with surrounding bone, or if you develop an infection that compromises neighboring tissue. If the post or abutment piece is damaged, it is important to consult your dentist as soon as possible to discuss replacement. Removing and replacing a failing implant can protect your oral health and preserve your smile.
Why Do Dental Implants Fail?
Though rare, dental implants can fail under several circumstances, including:
- Failed osseointegration: When implants do not fuse properly with the surrounding bone, they can weaken or fall out altogether. Without a strong, sturdy foundation, implants cannot support a crown, bridge, or denture.
- Peri-implantitis: This type of infection forms in the tissue around the implant and leads to bone loss and implant exposure.
- Mechanical failure: In rare cases, the implant post or abutment can break. This issue is generally due to poor initial planning.
If you begin to experience swelling, inflammation, or pain around your dental implants or notice your implant becoming loose, you should contact your dentist right away as these are signs of implant failure.
Treating a Failed Implant
If issues surrounding your implant are identified early, your dentist may be able to save the implant without removing it.
The optimal treatment for implant failure depends on the underlying cause. Generally, your dentist or oral surgeon will need to remove the post and allow the area to heal. Your dentist can often treat peri-implantitis by cleaning the implant site and removing infected tissue. In cases where insufficient jawbone tissue led to implant failure, you will likely need a bone graft before your dentist can replace the post.
Prevent Implant Failure
If issues surrounding your implant are identified early, your dentist may be able to save the implant without removing it. The best way to maintain the health of your dental implants is to practice good oral hygiene. Pay special attention to your implant-supported restoration while brushing and flossing. You should also attend regular cleanings and examinations at your dentist’s office about every three to six months. Your dentist can identify and treat any areas of concern as quickly as possible.
Replacing a Compromised Restoration
While implant-supported restorations are more stable and secure than traditional options, they are not designed to last forever. They are subjected to daily wear and tear, which can affect their function. You may need to replace your restoration if you notice:
- Significant changes in the fit of the restoration
- Chips or fractures in the dental porcelain
- A loose restoration
- Excessive wear on the surface of the restoration
In most cases, implant-supported restoration can be replaced without surgery. Your dentist can fabricate a new crown, bridge, or denture and reattach it to the underlying abutment. If your restoration fails, contact your dentist immediately. Leaving a missing or damaged restoration untreated can cause more substantial oral health concerns.