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What happens if my dental implant doesn't work properly?

While dental implant procedures are usually successful and the failure rate for these operations is rare, it can happen. If failure does occur, no need to panic — our Richmond dentists at Saba Road Dental Center are here to help you spot signs and identify next steps if your implant fails. 

How does my dental implant work?

Most conventional dental implants have three components: 

  1. A titanium part that bonds with the bone during a process called osseointegration
  2. An attachment (abutment) 
  3. A crown fixed to the attachment, which aligns with your existing teeth

Issues with any of these parts can become a problem if one of the components is broken or becomes loose.

While dental implants are made of metal, the osseointegration process is key to their proper function. During this biological process, the body will produce living bone cells that will grow to surround the surface of the implant and anchor it to your jawbone. Healthy bone gradually grows around the implant.

However, sometimes osseointegration doesn't happen the way it should. Occasionally, this can lead to issues after implantation.  

What are signs that my dental implant may be failing?

If osseointegration has not occurred or progressed properly, or if the bone surrounding the implant has not developed properly, pain, swelling or infection can occur around the implant site. However, this does not always happen, either.

An implant may also begin to wobble or move slightly when a patient chews or speaks (there's a chance that your dentist might even be the first to detect this movement). 

Dental implants should remain securely in their place and not move. If your dentist detects movement in your implant, they may recommend an X-ray to assess your bone growth. This will likely allow us to identify whether there has been significant bone loss around the implant's metal component. 

What is the risk of my dental implant failing? 

While dental implant procedures are typically successful, some patients will face an increased risk for dental implant failure. If any of these risk factors are true for you, your dentist may recommend you consider another tooth replacement option. 

  • Ongoing cancer treatment
  • Some medications
  • Smoking
  • Conditions such as gum disease or bruxism (can damage a healing implant) 
  • Diseases such as osteoporosis, which can impact bone density and strength 

What should I do if I notice an issue with my dental implant?

Contact your dentist to schedule an examination if you notice a problem with your dental implant. Your dentist will be able to remove a failed implant while you are under local anesthesia. If the bone surrounding the area of the implant being removed is intact, no bone graft will be required. 

If your dentist detects bone loss, they may recommend a bone graft to strengthen the area before replacing the failed implant with a new one. The bone graft will need to heal before a new implant can be placed. During this time, your dentist will brief you on how you can decrease the risk of failure such as waiting to complete other dental treatments, quitting smoking or taking other measures depending on your health status and history. 

How can I reduce the risk of complications with my dental implant?

Before your implant is placed, you'll be asked about risk factors that may threaten the success of this treatment method. Always update your dentist about any changes to your health status or medical history, such as changes in medications or medical conditions, since these can impact osseointegration and healing, 

Maintaining great oral hygiene is also key to avoiding dental implant problems. Remember to brush twice daily and rinse with antibacterial mouthwash to keep your gums healthy and free of bacteria while your new tooth settles.

Do you have questions or concerns about dental implants that this post hasn't addressed? Contact our Richmond dental office today to schedule a consultation with our dentists.

(604) 304-1088