Dental Implant Problems and Solutions

There’s no doubt about it — dental technology has come a long way in the past several years. One excellent example of just how far is the dental implant tooth replacement method. Patients who are missing one or more teeth now have options that go beyond bridges and dentures. Implants are considered to be a permanent solution to missing teeth. In this article, we’ll explain what dental implants are, as well as describing some possible dental implant problems and solutions.

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What You Should Know about Dental Implants

An implant consists of a tiny metal rod (usually made from titanium) that is implanted into a person’s jawbone. After a period of several months, the metal fuses to the bone tissue, creating what is essentially an artificial tooth root. Once that process is complete, the dentist or oral surgeon affixes a crown to the top of the implant. This technology is now used on a regular basis by dental professionals all across the US. Implants are used not only to replace missing teeth, but also used to support dental prosthetic devices.

Why Some Dental Implants Fail

While it’s true that implants have become increasingly common, some patients may experience problems with their implants. What follows are some of the reasons why that can happen:

  • Disease and pre-existing medical issues – Medical conditions can negatively affect how a person’s body heals after any type of surgery. This holds true for oral surgery as well, and getting a new dental implant falls into the oral surgery category. So people with existing problems – such as cancer, diabetes, smoking, gum disease, or alcoholism, to name just a few – may experience difficulties with their implants. Most often this involves the implant not adequately fusing to the bone tissue. To avoid this problem, make sure that you tell your dentist or oral surgeon about any current medical conditions that you have prior to getting a dental implant.
  • Infection – It’s crucial that the patient follow the directions of the dentist or oral surgeon after getting a dental implant. It may be hard to think about, but our mouths are breeding grounds for bacteria. That means that after any type of oral surgery – including a dental implant procedure – infection is a real possibility. That’s why your dentist will provide you with a full set of instructions on how to care for the implant site after the procedure is complete, and why it’s vital that you follow those directions to the letter. If you don’t, you may experience an infection. And while an infection may not result in your implant failing completely, it will definitely slow down the healing process.
  • Insufficient bone density – If you lack bone volume in your jawbone, it can result in the implant not having enough bone tissue to fuse with, and the implant can fail. In the vast majority of cases, the dentist or oral surgeon will assess the health of the jawbone prior to implant surgery to make sure that sufficient bone density is present. If there is not an adequate amount of bone present, a bone grafting procedure may be needed before the patient gets a new dental implant. This type of bone grafting is actually more common than you may think, and it’s usually very successful.
  • Implant movement – Most of us know that if we break a bone, that bone needs to remain immobilized while it heals. The same holds true for a new dental implant. If the implant is moved before it has a chance to fuse to the bone, it can result in soft tissue forming around the implant rather than bone tissue. That, in turn, can make the implant loose, which will be painful for the patient. For that reason, the patient needs to avoid putting excess pressure on the site of the implant as the fusing process is taking place. If the implant is moved and becomes loose, it usually needs to be removed and reinserted into the bone to allow it to properly fuse.
  • Poor dental hygiene – Just because you have a new artificial tooth doesn’t mean you can ease up on your oral hygiene routine. In fact, it’s important to brush and floss as you normally would each and every day, and you still need to visit your dentist on a regular basis for oral exams and professional cleanings. Plaque can build up around an implant in much the same way as it does around a natural tooth, and this can result in gum inflammation and even eventually bone loss.
  • Inadequate implant insertion – The vast majority of people who undergo a dental implant procedure with a trained, experienced dentist or oral surgeon won’t experience any serious difficulties. Those dental professionals will understand how to properly insert the implant. Unfortunately, there are a small number of oral care providers who may offer implant services without adequate experience or training. While this is rare, it highlights the importance of choosing the right dentist or oral surgeon to perform your implant procedure. Make sure he or she has the adequate education, training, and experience before signing up for implant surgery.
  • Excessive stress on the implant – While it’s true that implants are remarkably strong and durable, they’re not indestructible. If an excessive amount of stress is placed on the implant over an extended period of time, pockets can form in the gum tissue around the implant and bacteria can collect and grow. That bacteria can lead to infection and, ultimately, bone loss. Though not common – and usually happening as a result of an implant being improperly inserted or a wrong size implant being used – this can happen to patients even years after their implant procedure. To avoid this, be certain that you choose a dentist or oral surgeon with extensive experience in implant surgery.

Now that we’ve discussed dental implant problems and solutions, it’s important to remember this: dental implants have overall success rate of about 98%. That means that the chances of experiencing one of these issues is extremely slim. For more information about possible dental implant problems and how to resolve them, talk to your dentist.

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