Dental implants are a fantastic permanent solution to missing teeth. However, in rare cases, it is possible for a dental implant to fail.
The following will outline what you should do if you believe this has happened to you. But first:
What are the reasons a dental implant might fail?
If an implant fails, it will usually happen either very early on (several weeks or months after the final surgery) or after quite a long period of time (possibly several years). The biggest reason for early loss of an implant is that the implant failed to become completely integrated (osseointegration) into the surrounding bone after surgery. Alternatively, if an implant fails after several years have passed, it’s likely because of bone degeneration (loss) surrounding the implant. Contributing factors to implant failure include: poor oral hygiene, bruxism, poor treatment planning and surgical execution, chronic health conditions like autoimmune disorders, diabetes, or osteoporosis, poor blood supply to the implant site, certain medications, existing infections and lack of bone to support the implant(s).
Checking for a loose implant
If possible, it’s best to catch a faulty implant while it’s still loose and hasn’t yet fallen out. Keep in mind, a loose implant won’t necessarily wobble back and forth like your loose teeth did when you were six.
Instead, you might notice symptoms around your implant such as:
- Visible bone loss
- Pain or discomfort
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your oral surgeon right away to have your implant checked. You should never ignore an implant that may be loose or approach it with the “wait-and-see” method. A loose implant will not correct itself. It’s always best to have an oral healthcare professional take a look at it. An untreated loose implant could lead to infection, which can spread throughout the jaw, mouth and neck.
Action steps if your implant has failed:
1. Don’t panic. Many patients panic when they believe their implant has failed. While this is understandable and you should certainly see your oral surgeon as soon as possible, there’s no reason to be severely alarmed.
2. Figure out if it’s really the implant itself. Nine times out of ten, when someone’s “implant has failed,” it’s not really the implant itself. Instead, it’s often just a part of the implant - perhaps its just the crown or the abutment. Examine the piece you’ve found that’s fallen out, and be sure to keep it in a sealed plastic bag.
3. Contact your oral surgeon right away. It is important to book an appointment with your oral surgeon right away. Bring the piece that fell out with you to the appointment. Your surgeon will evaluate the site and decide on a treatment plan.
4. Get instructions on diet and cleaning. If you’re making an appointment that’s at least a few days away, you should ask for hygiene and eating instructions in the meantime. Your oral surgeon may tell you to avoid chewing anything near the implant, or to only eat soft foods in general, and to rinse the site periodically.
Learn More About the Benefits of Dental Implants for Missing Teeth
If you have a missing tooth and are considering a dental implant, rest assured that the majority of surgeries are highly successful and last for years or even decades. Learn more about your dental implant options at Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery today by giving us a call!