Why Do Dental Implants Fail?

Modern Dental Implants

The modern titanium-post dental implant came into use about thirty years ago and was hailed as an important addition to dentistry’s toolbox. The dental implant procedure was seen as a safe one yielding effective, predictable results. Patients would smile, talk, laugh, and eat as normal, and their teeth and gums would look entirely natural.

The first step in providing a dental implant is to embed a titanium peg resembling a screw in the jawbone. Over time, the post bonds with the bone and becomes firmly enough established to support an artificial tooth called a crown. Once it has, the crown is fitted on.

The process is the same in principle when a denture is being used to replace more than single tooth. It just takes additional posts.

As we’ve seen here at Loop Perio, the dental implant procedure often works great. Still, no technology works perfectly 100% of the time, and dental implants do occasionally fail.

What Does It Look Like When Dental Implants Fail?

When dental implants fail, patients can develop peri-implantitis. In this condition, there’s inflammation that may be accompanied by bleeding and suppuration. In severe cases, bone loss can result. If the patient suffers from periodontitis or has four or more implants, the odds of peri-implantitis increase.

It’s also possible for the dental implant to break or come away entirely from the place where it’s supposed to be.

Obviously, neither of these is to be desired. Perhaps by considering some possible reasons for implant fails, dentistry can make the implant process even more reliable.

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Possible Reasons for the Failures of Dental Implants

Inadequate Education

Not all dental schools are created equal when it comes to providing education about tooth implants. Some provide less information and few opportunities for students to place dental implants themselves.

Poor Integration and Communication Between General Dentists and Specialists

Specialists like oral surgeons, periodontists, and endotic dentists must coordinate to achieve a successful implant (in other words, there must be an integration of surgery and prosthodontics), and sometimes these individuals emerge from their training with only limited knowledge of one another’s areas of expertise. This can make effective coordination difficult.

Poor Bone Density

When bone density is low, providing adequate support for dental implants is something of a gamble. Patients deserve to be informed of their chances before deciding on this form of treatment.

Placing Too Great a Strain on the Dental Implants

It can take multiple dental implants to support a prosthesis. The number required depends on the nature of the prosthesis, implant length and diameter, bone density, intensity of occlusion, and bruxism (teeth grinding or jaw clenching.)

If overloaded, dental implants can fail. From this, one might infer that more are better than fewer, but more can put a strain on the patient’s wallet.

Being in a Hurry to Load

How fast a dental implant will bond with bone depends on the individual’s general health, bone density, occlusion (the way the upper and lower teeth meet), and other factors. Generally, it takes three to six months. If the dental professional doesn’t determine that the bonding process is done, if he moves to the next step too quickly, implant failure can result.

Being in a Hurry to Place Dental Implants Where Previous Endotically Treated Teeth Have Failed

Some dental professionals remove a failing endotically treated tooth and put an implant in its place immediately, without regard for the fact that the organisms that caused the previous failure likely remain in the bone and are apt to cause another failure. It may be better practice to deal with the organisms first.

What to Do When Dental Implants Fail

Happily, when dental implants fail, there are various restorative treatments a dental professional can undertake.

In the case of peri-implantitis, non-surgical treatment, specifically scaling and root planing possibly accompanied by antibiotics, sometimes clears up the condition although soft tissue recession can result.

If there’s implant breakage but no corresponding damage to the jawbone, remediation is relatively easy. The dental professional can remove the damaged tooth implant and replace it with a new one.

If the dental implant failed to bond properly with the bone in the first place, a failure referred to osseointegration, or an infection has taken hold, things are more complicated. The preferred course of treatment depends on whether bone loss is moderate or severe.

In the case of moderate bone loss, the dental professional assesses the reason for infection and removes the failed implant. The affected area must heal, which can take several months, and then it’s often possible to replace the tooth implant.

If bone loss has been severe, the dentist may need to perform a bone graft prior to replacing the implant. If new bone isn’t grown, a new implant will once again lack adequate support.

If you need dental implants, rest assured that the experts at Loop Perio have the training and experience necessary to ensure the chances of failure are minimal indeed. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to experience tooth implant failure, we can provide the best possible remedy. Call us at (312) 782-4068 to schedule an appointment.