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The Top Causes of Dental Implant Failure: What You Need to Know

If you’re considering getting a dental implant as a tooth replacement or already have one implanted in your mouth, knowing the possible causes of implant failure is essential. While implants are designed with longevity in mind, certain factors may lead to an unsuccessful outcome.

This blog post explores the most common causes of dental implant failure, what they are, how to prevent them, and why understanding these common issues is essential for good oral health. 

Summary of the Article

  • Dental implant failure occurs when an implant fails to fuse with the jawbone.

  • Dental implant failure is a potential consequence of poor oral hygiene, smoking, poor diet, trauma, failed bone graft, poor dental implant surgery and certain medical conditions.

  • Implant overloading, caused by excessive force on the implant, can lead to dental implant failure due to the loosening of the implant and bone loss.

  • Improperly placed dental implants can lead to pain, discomfort, and a higher risk of bone resorption, ultimately leading to implant failure.

  • Good oral hygiene is crucial for the success of dental implants. Neglecting proper oral hygiene can lead to bacterial buildup, inflammation, and infections around the implant, causing implant failure.

  • Behaviours such as poor oral hygiene, teeth grinding, eating hard foods, and tobacco use can increase the risk of dental implant failure.

  • Certain medical conditions and therapies can contribute to dental implant failure, including:
    • Diabetes
    • Autoimmune disease
    • Radiation therapy
    • Bisphosphonates treatment

  • Signs of dental implant failure include:
    • Sudden onset of severe pain
    • Swelling and redness
    • Loose implant
    • Allergic reaction
    • Numbness or tingling

  • Dental implant failure can be prevented by following post-operative instructions, practising good oral hygiene, avoiding habits that can damage implants and choosing a qualified dentist.

  • Dentists play a critical role in preventing dental implant failure, so choosing a qualified and experienced dentist is very important.

  • Dental implant failure can have adverse effects on oral and overall health.
tooth implantation model

What Are the Most Common Causes of Dental Implant Failure?

  • Poor Oral Hygiene
    This is the most common cause of dental implant failure. Failure to brush and floss regularly leads to plaque buildup. The bacteria in plaque can cause an inflammatory response and infection and affect the attachment of the implant to the jawbone.

  • Smoking
    Smoking is a major risk factor for dental implant failure. It slows down the healing process, so it takes longer for the replacement teeth to fuse with the jawbone. Smoking is also associated with gum disease, leading to bone loss and gum recession. These can ultimately lead to the loss of attachment in implants.

  • Poor Diet
    A poor diet can lead to a failed dental implant procedure. Your bones may become weak if you don’t eat enough foods rich in calcium and other minerals. Decreased bone density can lead to implant failure.

    Additionally, sugary and acidic foods contribute to tooth decay, and although dental implants are not susceptible to tooth decay, it increases the risk of bacterial infection spreading from the natural teeth to the implant site.

  • Trauma
    Trauma or injury to the jawbone or surrounding area can compromise the bone and the implant’s ability to fuse with it. In some cases, the force may lead to post-surgical fractures or tears, leading to infection and failure of the dental implant.It is important for patients considering implants to be aware that trauma can contribute to failure – especially those who play contact sports or regularly engage in activities that put their mouths at risk of harm.

    Taking preventative measures such as wearing protective mouthguards when indicated can help reduce the risk of dental implant failure due to trauma.

  • Failed Bone Graft
    Sufficient bone growth is key to a successful implant. A failed bone graft leads to a failed dental implant. If the bone graft does not properly integrate with the surrounding jawbone, it may prevent the successful placement of a dental implant. In this case, the implant may not be able to bond with the jawbone, causing it to become loose or fall out entirely.

  • Poor Dental Implant Surgery 
    Poor dental implant surgery can have serious consequences, not least of which is that it can lead to implant failure. Poor placement, insufficient bone strength or density, or using a dental implant system incompatible with the anatomy are all potential causes of implant failure due to poor surgical technique.Because of this, it is essential to choose a qualified and experienced dentist for the procedure. Make sure you ask about their experience with dental implants and whether or not they’ve had complications with previous surgeries before making your decision.

How Does Implant Overloading Contribute to Dental Implant Failure?

Implant overloading can cause dental implant failure. Common causes of implant overloading include improper design and size of implants, insufficient number of implants to support the restoration, oral habits like bruxism, and frequent application of excessive forces or stress on implants which happens when patients eat hard food. These lead to the loosening of the implant and subsequent bone loss, which can result in implant failure.

To prevent implant overloading and subsequent implant failure, it is important to ensure the implant is appropriately designed and placed. The dentist should also consider the patient’s oral habits and the number of implants needed to support the restoration. Additionally, patients should be advised on proper oral hygiene practices and instructed on how to avoid applying excessive force on the implant, such as avoiding hard foods.

male dentist and a female assistant conduct a consultation for a young girl at the reception.

How Can Improper Placement of Dental Implants Lead To Failure?

Improperly-placed titanium implants can have dire consequences; they may not adhere to the jawbone, causing discomfort and significant pain. Additionally, poor implant placement can lead to a higher risk of bone resorption, which is when the bone around an implant shrinks due to lack of stimulation. This can cause the implant to loosen and even fall out, ultimately leading to its failure.

Therefore, it is vital for patients considering dental implants to choose an experienced and qualified dentist who offers a comprehensive plan for implant placement. This will help ensure that the implants are properly placed so that no complications arise in the future.

What Role Does Oral Hygiene Play in Dental Implant Failure?

Oral hygiene plays a critical role in the success rates of dental implants. Poor dental hygiene can lead to plaque and bacteria buildup around the implant, which can cause infections and inflammation in the surrounding tissues. This can weaken the bond between the implant and the jaw bone, resulting in failure.

Oral hygiene habits such as regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings are essential to maintaining good oral health and ensuring the long-term success of dental implants.

Are There Any Specific Behaviors That Can Increase the Risk of Dental Implant Failure?

  • Poor Oral Hygiene
    Poor oral hygiene can lead to numerous dental problems, including dental implant failure. Plaque contains bacteria that can cause gum disease and other dental infections. Failure to remove it by brushing, flossing, and having regular professional cleanings can lead to plaque accumulation which can cause dental implant problems.

  • Grinding Your Teeth
    Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a condition that can put unnecessary stress on your dental implants and cause them to fail. If you grind your teeth at night, we recommend wearing a mouth guard to protect your implants.

  • Eating Hard Foods
    You should also be careful about eating hard foods, which can crack or damage your dental implants. Avoid chewing on hard candy, ice, or nuts. If you are going to eat hard foods, cut them into small pieces and chew slowly and carefully.

  • Tobacco Use
    Smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products can decrease blood flow to the gums, making it difficult for the body to heal after surgery. Additionally, tobacco use increases the risk of infection, making it more difficult for the implant to fuse with the bone.

Can Medical Conditions and Therapies Contribute to Dental Implant Failure?

When considering a dental implant treatment, it is important to factor in any pre-existing medical conditions, as these can impact the implant’s success. Here are some medical conditions that can affect the success of dental implants.

  • Diabetes
    Diabetes has created a significant challenge to dental implant success because it can interfere with the healing process. The risk of failure is higher for diabetics who receive implants. This is due to complications such as delayed integration, early implant failure, or slow osseointegration resulting from poorly managed diabetes.

    In some cases, doctors may decide against placing the implant for those with uncontrolled diabetes or if their diabetes is unresponsive to medical management. Proper diagnosis and active management of diabetes before any dental procedure can go a long way in helping reduce any adverse effects that could occur from receiving an implant.

  • Autoimmune disease
    Autoimmune diseases can affect the success of dental implants by causing systemic inflammation. This can lead to bone loss and, eventually, dental implant failure.Additionally, some autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome, can directly affect the jawbone. This results in deterioration, making it difficult to place the implants.

    Patients with autoimmune diseases may also have compromised immune systems, making them more susceptible to infections.

  • Radiation Therapy to the Head and Neck 
    Radiation therapy can lead to dental implant failure due to its effect on the jawbone and surrounding tissues. Radiotherapy can damage the blood vessels and cells in the jawbone. Poor circulation can reduce the healing capacity of your jaw and increase the chance of infection. This makes it difficult to secure dental implants and increases the risk of failure due to improper osseointegration.

  • Bisphosphonates treatment
    Bisphosphonates are medications used to address conditions like osteoporosis and cancer. They work by reducing bone resorption and increasing bone density. However, they can cause a rare side-effect called bisphosphonate-associated osteonecrosis of the jaw (BONJ). BONJ occurs when bisphosphonates cause necrosis or death of the jawbone.

    Bisphosphonates increase the likelihood of implant failure due to bone tissue changes and subsequent difficulties with osseointegration. This can sometimes lead to significant complications such as implant loosening or fracture. For this reason, it’s important for individuals considering dental implants to talk to their doctor about bisphosphonate usage or other health issues prior to undergoing the procedure.

What Are the Signs of Dental Implant Failure?

  1. Sudden onset of severe pain.
    This is the most common sign of dental implant failure. Sudden and prolonged pain triggered by chewing can be a sign of treatment failure.

  2. Swelling and redness.
    Swelling and redness around the implant surface can be associated with gum disease or other infections. If you notice swelling and redness, you must see your dentist immediately so they can determine the cause and provide treatment.

  3. Loose implant.
    When an implant is loose, it slowly loses its attachment to the bone. When this happens, immediate attention from your dentist is needed to determine the proper course of action.

  4. Allergic reaction.
    Dental implants can fail due to an allergic reaction. Titanium is the most commonly used material for dental implants due to its biocompatibility, ability to bond with the jawbone and durability. However, some individuals may still be allergic to titanium, which causes the implant to fail. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include swelling, redness, discolouration, and pain around the implant site.

  5. Numbness or tingling.
    These sensations may result from nerve damage caused by the placement of the implant. It can also be a sign of the body rejecting the titanium or other materials used in the implant.

How Can Dental Implant Failure Be Prevented?

The dental implant success rate is generally high. However, it is also important to acknowledge the dental implant failure rate, which falls within the range of 5-10%. As such, implementing preventive measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of experiencing dental implant failure. Below are some recommendations to consider.

  • Follow all post-operative instructions
    After dental implants are placed, following all post-operative instructions is important. These instructions will help the implants heal properly, creating a stronger bond between the implant and the surrounding bone, contributing to its longevity and preventing problems that may lead to implant failure.

  • Practice good oral hygiene
    Good oral hygiene is essential for the proper maintenance of dental implants. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using an antibacterial mouthwash. Seeing a dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups is also important.

  • Avoid habits that can damage implants
    Certain habits can damage dental implants and lead to implant failure. These habits include smoking, chewing on hard objects, and using your teeth as tools. If you have dental implants, avoiding these habits is essential to prevent implant failure.

  • Choose a qualified dentist
    This is one of the most significant ways to prevent implant failure. A qualified dentist will have experience in placing and caring for dental implants. They will also be able to identify any risk factors that may increase the likelihood of implant failure.

What Is the Role of the Dentist in Preventing Dental Implant Failure?

The dentist’s role in preventing dental implant failure is to create a treatment plan that considers the patient’s needs, habits, and goals, place the implant, ensure proper hygiene and maintenance, and regularly monitor the implant for any signs of failure. The dentist must also educate the patient on proper oral hygiene and provide follow-up care to ensure the long-term success of the implant.

What Is the Impact of Dental Implant Failure on Oral Health and Overall Well-Being?

Dental implant failure can have a seriously negative impact on oral and overall health and well-being. Not only can the patient experience acute pain and discomfort, but they may also need to have the implant removed, ultimately leading to the loss of their tooth once again. Sadly, this loss can present complications not just in terms of eating, smiling, or talking properly but can increase the risk of tooth decay, periodontal disease and other dental health conditions.

With such troubling implications for one’s physical health, it is especially important to ensure dental implants are installed efficiently and regularly monitored for potential problems.

Final Thoughts

Dental implant surgery is a popular and effective way to replace one or more missing teeth. However, like other surgical procedures, there is always the risk of failure. The most common causes of dental implant failure are improper placement, oral hygiene problems, implant overloading, and habits such as smoking. Medical conditions can also contribute to dental implant failure.

One of the initial methods to prevent dental implant failure is to seek treatment from a qualified and experienced dentist. At South Perth Dental Surgery, our team of dentists has extensive experience in performing successful dental implant surgeries. Contact our clinic today to set a dental appointment and see how we can help you achieve your oral health goals.

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