Can dental implants fail?

Dental implant failure is rare, but it can happen.

Dental implants are, usually, very successful procedures that bring a long-term boost to oral health. However, in a small number (about 5%) of cases, a dental implant may fail.

Read on to learn more about dental implants, including how to minimise the risk of early and late dental implant failure.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a safe, effective treatment usually undertaken to replace a missing tooth. It is considered an ideal solution for restoring oral form and function, suitable for patients who have good general oral health, but not for those who have lost a tooth due to injury or gum disease.

Dental implants are usually made of three parts: a titanium implant that is inserted into the jaw bone; an attachment, called an abutment, that is connected to the implant; and a crown at the top, which is aligned and matched to the shade of your existing teeth.

Why can dental implants fail?

There are two main reasons why, in a small percentage of cases, dental implants may fail.

Peri-implantitis is a form of gum disease where the mouth becomes infected, and this infection damages the bone around the implant. Its cause is usually poor oral hygiene (inadequate brushing and flossing).

On the other hand, failed osseointegration is when your jaw bone is unable to grow around the dental implant to make it secure. Failed osseointegration may have many causes, including the structure and strength of your bones, whether or not you are a smoker, the technique used by your dental surgeon, and the quality of the surgery itself.

What are the causes of early dental implant failure?

Early dental implant failure risks are limited to the short-term (usually the recovery period following a dental implant procedure).

Some key contributing factors to avoid include deprived blood supply to the implant area, the development of infections in the mouth, and moving or shifting of the implant during the healing phase.

This is why it is vitally important to follow the directions of your dentist immediately following a dental implant procedure. You will need to make some short-term lifestyle adjustments — such as quitting smoking, avoid certain medications, and making dietary changes — in order to avoid long-term problems.

What are the causes of late dental implant failure?

It is even less common — but not impossible — for dental implants to fail after a number of successful years. These longer-term causes of dental implant failure are usually related to natural wear and tear of the body (such as weak bones or unhealthy gum tissue), but good oral hygiene can reduce the risk of dental implant failure.

Some key causes of late dental implant failure include bacterial infections (sometimes caused by impacted food) and generally poor oral hygiene, which can lead to gum diseases. It is also important not to put excessive stress on the implants (consult your dentist if you grind your teeth at night), and it is recommended that you avoid repeated exposure of your head and neck areas to radiation.

What dental implant precautions can be taken?

Before your dental implant placement, have a detailed discussion with your dentist about any risk factors that can limit the success of your procedure. Understand the different lifestyle and dietary adjustments that you are committing to before proceeding.

Ensure that you elect a skilled, qualified dental surgeon to perform your dental implant procedure — not all surgeons are equal, and any risk of dental implant failure will be minimised by working with a trusted professional.

How can we help?

At Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (OMFS), our surgeons are recognised as some of the best in their respective fields, with associations and affiliations to the leading teaching hospitals in the country. Dental implants have become an important part of modern dentistry, and we offer expert procedures with long-lasting successful results. For more about dental implants, please read more here.

No matter what your diagnosis is, all our patients at OMFS are treated with respect and dignity. To arrange an appointment to meet our passionate team and to discuss your treatment options, please get in touch here.

In addition to a comprehensive range of oral and maxillofacial surgery treatments, our services include consultations and second opinions, medico-legal reporting, local anaesthetic procedures in a comfortable office environment, and general anaesthetic procedures in various hospitals throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria. To find out more about all we have on offer, please consult our website