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Risks Associated With Dental Implants

Medically Reviewed by Evan Frisbee, DMD on April 26, 2022

It’s rare to have problems with dental implants. However, just like with any surgery, there are always some risks. And while implants have a high success rate, it’s possible they may fail.

Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about getting dental implants.

Infection

With dental implants, there’s a small risk of getting an infection where the implant is placed.

Signs of gum infection include:

  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away
  • Swollen gums
  • Loose teeth
  • New gaps between your teeth
  • Pus

If you see any of these signs, call your doctor.

Nerve Damage

There’s a small risk of dental implants injuring the nerves that go to your face and your gums. You may have damage or injury to the structures that surround your implant, like your other teeth or your blood vessels.

If you have nerve damage, it may lead to pain, numbness, or tingling. It may affect your natural teeth, your gums, your lips, or your chin.

Sinus Problems

It’s rare, but dental implants placed in your upper jaw may lead to complications with your sinuses. For example, they may get into one of your sinus cavities and cause problems.

Implant Rejection or Failure

It’s possible that your body may reject your dental implant. This means it may become loose or infected and would need to be replaced.

There are a few different reasons why dental implants may fail. They include peri-implantitis (inflammation in your gums around the implant), lack of osseointegration, meaning your bone doesn’t take to the implant, and issues coming from bad habits like grinding your teeth.

Peri-implantitis

Peri-implantitis, or peri-implant disease, is a form of gum disease related to dental implants. Just like with regular gum disease, it’s linked to poor oral hygiene, poor health, and certain habits you may have.

You may get peri-implantitis if you don’t have good oral hygiene. Bacteria may get into the crevices between your teeth and your implants. This can lead to inflammation, bleeding, infection, and bone loss.

Just like with natural teeth, it’s important to have good oral health. Be sure to keep your implant clean and free from plaque. Use a toothbrush, floss, or a water irrigator to remove bacteria.

Certain lifestyle habits can make peri-implantitis worse, too. To lower your risk of complications, avoid drinking alcohol, using drugs, and smoking.

Always make sure to see your dental hygienist for regular checkups.

Issues From Bad Habits

Some things you do without even knowing it can lead to failure of your dental implants. These are called parafunctional habits, and they’re involuntary, which means your body does them on its own.

For example, you may have a nervous tick. You may bite your nails. Or you may grind your teeth when you’re sleeping without realizing it.

Talk to your doctor if you think you have any of these habits. They may suggest certain things to improve your chances of a successful implant. For example, they may recommend techniques that improve your sleep or lower your stress. Or they may give you a bite plate or night guard to protect your teeth.

Lack of Osseointegration

Your dental implants may fail if there isn’t enough bone around your implant to fully support it. This is called a lack of osseointegration. It’s one of the most common reasons dental implants fail.

There are different reasons why you may have bone loss on your implants. Bacterial infections like peri-implantitis may destroy your bone, you may have too much stress on your implants, or you may grind or clench your teeth. Poor oral hygiene may also cause bone loss.

If you’ve had radiation therapy to your head or neck, this may also cause a lack of osseointegration.

Before your implant surgery, talk to your doctor about your medical and dental history. If they know about your possible risks, they may help you to take steps to improve your chances of a successful implant.

Even if your first implant fails, it’s unlikely to happen again. If you need a replacement implant, it has a 90% chance of working.

After You Get Dental Implants

Most dental implants go smoothly, without complications. If you do have a problem, it will likely be minor, and your doctor may be able to treat it easily.

Your periodontist will work with you after the procedure to create a care plan. You’ll have regular follow-up visits so they can check your implant and make sure your teeth and gums are healthy.

Talk to your doctor right away if you have problems after getting implants, including:

  • Chewing problems
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Mouth pain
  • Signs of gum infection
  • Speaking problems
  • Swelling of your face
  • Toothache

When to Avoid Dental Implants

Certain conditions make dental implant surgery too risky.

If you have uncontrolled diabetes, if you have leukemia, if you smoke regularly, or if you’ve had radiation therapy to your head or neck, dental implants may not be right for you.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Implant Dentistry: “Dental Implant Failure: 3 Reasons It Occurs and How to Prevent It,” “Dental Implants: The Top 5 Life-Changing Benefits You Will Notice.”

American Academy of Periodontology: “Dental Implant Procedures.”

ADA: “Implants.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Dental Implants.”

Mayo Clinic: “Dental Implant Surgery,” “Denture care: How do I clean dentures?”

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