While dental implants are one of the most reliable and predictable dental treatments, they’re not infallible, and things can go wrong. Let’s look at some common dental implant problems and how to treat them.
Patients need to take good care of their dental implants to avoid infection, which is why it’s crucial to follow their dentist’s post-surgical instructions and maintain good oral hygiene throughout the dental implant procedure and for life.
Sometimes the site of the dental implant can become inflamed, and that can cause considerable discomfort. In some cases, an inflamed implant can also lead to high fever.
Oral infections can occur after dental implant surgery. The way to protect yourself from oral diseases is to clean the area, rinse with warm salt water and use a hand sanitiser before touching the side where the procedure was performed. That said, it’s best not to touch the surgical site at all until healing is well underway.
While it’s one of the less common dental implant problems, it’s worth mentioning allergies to titanium implants, even though they are rare. Some people may not know they are allergic to titanium until they have completed the dental implant procedure. Suppose you feel agitation in the area of your dental implant and think that something is pressing against a nerve or experience constant itchiness around the implant. Then you might be among the individuals who have an allergic reaction to titanium. It is possible to test for titanium hypersensitivity, or if you dislike the thought of metal in your mouth, then why not consider zirconia dental implants instead.
While, fortunately, it’s not that common a dental implant problem, nerves can become damaged during or after implant surgery. A severed or damaged nerve can occur when drilling too deeply into the jaw, causing injury to the alveolar nerve. A 2012 study has shown that nerve injury can lead to a sudden decline in quality of life. In other cases, the implant post can compress a nerve, causing damage. Swelling and bruising also pressure the nerves, although these types of injuries usually heal over time. Our dentists use advanced technology and computer-guided digitalised surgery to prevent nerve damage from dental implants.
A loose implant
A loose implant is one of the most common dental implant problems patients experience and can occur for various reasons. Sometimes it’s because the jaw bone is not strong enough to sustain the implant; this usually happens due to old age. While other times loose dental implants are caused by poor oral hygiene, smoking, and gum disease. Typically this occurs during the healing period when implants gradually integrate with the surrounding bone and soft tissues. However, an implant can fail for any of these reasons several years following the dental implant procedure.
If you think your dental implant has become loose, contact your dentist immediately, as a loose implant can cause a wide variety of problems if not treated promptly and may need to be removed.
Like natural teeth, dental implants rely on dense bone for support. Sometimes a patient seeking an implant in the upper jaw may have suffered considerable bone loss. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for an individual to have less bone in the upper jaw. A dental implant can protrude into the maxillary sinus without sufficient bone in the top jaw. Without a sinus lift or bone graft, there is an increased risk of the patient developing sinusitis and, more so, if the implant has penetrated the sinus cavity. Sinusitis is when the tissues lining the sinuses become inflamed. Inflammation can block the sinuses, creating a fluid that carries germs. If infection occurs inside the sinuses, patients may experience dental pain, facial pain and loss of smell. Patients with a history of sinus problems should alert their dentist. 3D scans or x-rays can help diagnose the issue.
Damage from excessive force
One of the less common dental implant problems is bruxism or teeth grinding. Excessive force can cause a dental implant to crack or become loose like a natural tooth. Many people don’t realise they are applying extreme pressure to their dental implants while they clench and grind their teeth when asleep. Patients prone to this behaviour may need to wear a mouthguard at night to protect their natural teeth and implants.
Peri-implantitis is an advanced form of gum disease that causes loss of the bone supporting a dental implant. It develops because of chronic infection at the implant site. Peri-implantitis can take around five years to progress and cause symptoms such as swelling and bleeding, according to one 2017 review. In the early stages, peri-implantitis symptoms are mild, but the longer it remains untreated, the more serious the side effects become.
Ultimately, the bone structure erodes, and the implant falls out of its own accord or will have to be removed by a dentist. If you are affected by pain or discomfort around the implants, you must contact your dentist immediately.
Taking care of dental implants
Following your surgeon’s after-care advice and attending all follow-up appointments is the best way to ensure dental implant success. People who smoke should also consider quitting, as smoking can cause complications with the dental implant procedure, both short-term and long-term. Whether you’re considering dental implants or experiencing common dental implant problems, we’re here to help. Contact the experienced dental team at DDSS/DDII on (02) 8294 5812 or (02) 8294 8656 for a FREE dental implant consultation.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
PubMed Central – Long-term clinical performance of 10 871 dental implants with up to 22 years of follow‐up: A cohort study in 4247 patients
Melisa.org – Titanium Hypersensitivity
PubMed Central – Pain Management for Nerve Injury following Dental Implant Surgery at Tokyo Dental College Hospital
Healthline – Everything to Know About A Sinus Lift
PubMed Central – Complications in Implant Dentistry