Tooth replacement is necessary to help prevent further complications that can be caused by missing teeth such as shifting and bone loss. Dental implants can help do this but what happens when they fail? Here, our Surrey dentists talk about dental implants and what to look for and expect if your implant doesn't work as it should.
What are dental implants and how do they work?
A dental implant is a tooth replacement device that is made up of three main components. These are:
- A titanium part that bonds with the bone during a process called osseointegration.
- The attachment is commonly referred to as an abutment.
- A crown fixed to the attachment, which aligns with your existing teeth.
Unfortunately, if a single component of the dental implant malfunctions the entire implant will need to be replaced.
The osseointegration process ensures that dental implants function properly. The body will then produce living bone cells to surround and anchor the implant to your jawbone. These bone cells develop into new bone growth which will envelop the implant.
However, osseointegration does not always occur as expected. This is one of the possible complications that you may experience.
How will you know if your implant isn't working properly?
Around the implant site, pain, swelling, and infection may occur if osseointegration has not occurred or has not progressed properly, or if the bone surrounding the implant has not developed properly. While these are the most common symptoms, the symptoms may vary greatly and you should always watch for any other signs of a possible issue.
If a dental implant is failing then it will likely cause both pain and swelling in the affected area and may feel 'loose'.
Once an implant has been placed you should not feel movement at any point. If your dentist observes movement in your implant, he or she may recommend an X-ray to assess your bone growth. This will almost certainly enable us to determine whether there has been significant bone loss around the implant's metal component.
What factors increase the risk of dental implant failure?
While the majority of dental implant procedures are successful, there are some which end up failing. There are a number of factors that may increase the likelihood of an implant failing. If you experience any of the following factors then you should speak with your dentist about a different method of tooth replacement:
- Ongoing cancer treatment
- Some medications
- Conditions such as gum disease or bruxism
- Diseases such as osteoporosis
What steps should you take if your dental implant might be failing?
You should contact your dentist as soon as you think there may be an issue. Your dentist will be able to extract a failed implant while you are under local anesthesia. Unless there are no issues with the bone around the implant you may be in need of a bone grafting procedure.
If it has been determined that your dental implant has failed then your dentist will remove the implant and perform diagnostic imaging and test to determine the cause behind the failure. If they discover that you have experienced bone loss, they may recommend that you have a bone graft to restore bone density before replacing the implant. The bone graft must heal before a new implant can be implanted. During this time, your dentist will educate you on ways to lower your risk of failure, such as postponing other dental treatments, quitting smoking, or taking other measures based on your health status and history.
Are there any specific methods of caring for a dental implant?
When considering a dental implant you should speak with your dentist to learn what to expect and the potential complications associated with implants. Your dentist will discuss the dental implant process and how to care for your new tooth restoration. Always inform your dentist if your health or medical history changes, as these can affect osseointegration and healing.
By being vigilant with oral hygiene you can help decrease the risk of dental implant failure. While your new tooth adjusts, continue brushing twice daily and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash. Continue with a rigorous daily oral hygiene routine once the implant is fully healed.