Dental implants are one of the most revolutionary modern dental technologies and have improved the lives of millions of patients worldwide. However, as with all types of surgery, problems can occasionally happen. The average failure rate of dental implants is around 2-3%, making implant surgery one of the safest and most successful dental procedures available. But what if you’re one of the unlucky few? Here are some of the warning signs of implant failure and how The Bristol Dental Practice can help if you’re in need of replacement implants.
What causes dental implants to fail?
Some of the most common reasons for implant failure include:
Infection – As with all types of surgery, risk of infection can compromise the effectiveness of your treatment. At The Bristol Dental Practice, our experienced dentists follow all sterile techniques to ensure a very low chance of infection during the actual procedure. However, the mouth is full of bacteria, and patients who ignore post-surgery directions or neglect their oral hygiene routine may develop inflammation of the tissue surrounding the dental implant, resulting in infection and potential bone loss.
Insufficient bone support – For an implant to be successful, it needs to fuse with the bone on all sides. Patients without the necessary jawbone density may require a bone graft prior to treatment to support the implant. If an implant is placed without a graft there may be insufficient support to enable it to fuse with the jawbone, causing the implant to fail.
Medical condition – Conditions such as diabetes, gum disease, or cancer may slow the healing process following implant surgery. You should also let your dentist know if you smoke, drink alcohol, or take regular medications, as these can also affect your recovery. Smoking can actually increase the risk of a failed implant from the 2-3% average to up to 10% so quitting before implant surgery is highly recommended.
Micromovement – Following implant surgery, it’s important for your new teeth to stay as immobile as possible for the first 8-12 weeks so the bone can grow around the implants. Micromovements are more likely following ‘immediate teeth’ or ‘immediate implants’ and it’s very important to follow any dietary recommendations to minimise biting or chewing impact on your implants.
Older dental implants – Implant technology has advanced considerably over the past decade. If your implants were placed many years ago, they may have simply worn out. We can replace older dental implants using the latest technologies and materials to ensure a long-lasting, natural looking result.
How do I know if my implant is failing?
If you have dental implants and experience any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible:
- Severe pain or discomfort – Obviously some intermittent pain during the recovery process is to be expected, but if you are experiencing a lot of discomfort some time after the procedure, there is a possibility that your implant is failing. If you’re not sure whether your pain is a normal part of the healing process, we recommend erring on the side of caution and making an appointment – treating complications as early as possible reduces the risk of implant failure.
- Gum inflammation – Minor swelling following implant surgery is normal, but if your gums are red and inflamed this is a sign of infection and should be treated immediately.
- Loose or wobbly implants – Your implants should feel just as secure as your natural teeth. Loose implants are never a normal part of the procedure and if they feel unstable you should call your dentist.
- Difficulty biting or chewing – When functioning effectively, implants should look and feel just like your normal teeth, so if you are experiencing pain when you eat there’s a high probability that something is amiss. Don’t ignore pain or discomfort – it will likely get worse and whatever is causing it may become progressively difficult to treat.
What are my treatment options?
If your dental implant fails, don’t worry – we can easily remove it under local anaesthesia. Treatment options will depend on the cause of your implant failure, but our experienced dentists at The Bristol Dental Practice are used to helping patients with both routine and complex cases and can assist nervous patients with dental sedation.
Replacement implants – If the bone around your implant is intact, your dentist may be able to gently clean the area and replace the implant immediately. If you have experienced bone loss, you may require a bone graft (which takes several months to heal) before a new implant can be placed. We will need to examine your jaw to determine the best course of treatment for you.
How can I avoid dental implant failure?
Although dental implant failure is sometimes unavoidable, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of a long-lasting, successful implant:
- Maintain good oral hygiene, brushing and flossing twice a day and using an antibacterial mouthwash.
- Avoid hard foods following treatment and follow any specific dietary instructions from your dentist.
- Eat gum-healthy foods, such as fish, milk, and eggs.
- Give up smoking at least two weeks prior to implant treatment and refrain from smoking for at least two months afterwards.
- Protect your implants from contact sports or teeth grinding by wearing a mouthguard.
- Visit your dentist for regular check-ups to ensure that any issues can be treated early. Let your dentist know immediately if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of implant failure listed above.
Our highly trained multidisciplinary team of dentists at The Bristol Dentist Practice have placed over 5,000 implants, helping patients regain their ability to eat and speak with confidence. Book your free consultation today to find out whether dental implants are the right choice for you.