When you are considering whether or not to have dental implants to replace one or more decayed or missing teeth, be sure to talk to your dental implant specialist about any potential dental implant problems or risks you may experience. Dental implants are wonderful but this is a surgical procedure and, therefore, it is not risk-free.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a small screw which is surgically inserted into the jawbone to substitute for the decayed or missing tooth’s natural root. This screw is made of titanium because titanium is one of the few materials that will be accepted by the body. After the screw is implanted, the bone must be allowed to grow around it, to create a stable anchor. Once this occurs, another component is placed (called an abutment) to support a crown. The abutment is also usually made of titanium or very sturdy plastic and the crown will usually be made of porcelain.
Patients have dental implant procedures done every day and the success rate is better than 95%. So what can possibly go wrong?
Dental Implant Problems: Infection
Also called “peri-implantitis”, this is one of the more serious problems with dental implants because the infection could cause the implant to be “rejected”. It may prevent your implant from integrating securely with your jawbone. This means it will be unstable and will not support the crowns, bridges or other components attached to it. Sometimes the infection is introduced when your implant surgery is being performed. Or an infection can occur if you do not practice good oral hygiene habits. Peri-implantitis will cause swelling and inflammation of the tissues. It can be treated with antibiotics, proper cleaning of the implant, and good hygiene. Occasionally the implant will have to be removed and replaced after the area heals. If peri-implantitis is severe, it can damage your jawbone.
Dental Implant Problems: Lack of Bone Mass
If the bone is your jaw does not have enough mass, or volume, the implant may not be able to integrate with the bone. If your dental implant specialist determines this problem before implant surgery, a bone graft can be performed to stabilize the implant and lower the chances for rejection.
Dental Implant Problems: Immediate implants
Same-day dental implants are very popular today. Exercise caution, however, because the immediate building of crowns on top of the implant after placement in the bone may put too much pressure on the implant and cause it to fail.
Dental Implant Problems: Nerve or sinus damage
Other dental implant problems that may occur are nerve damage at the location of the implant. This may occur if the dentist places the implant too near to, or on top of, the nerve. You would have unbearable pain if this happens and should report this to your dentist right away. A related dental implant problem may occur when the surgery is done to your upper jaw. Rarely, the implant can disturb your sinus cavity and cause problems. Chances are good that the implant will have to be removed and repositioned if either of these problems occurs.
Dental Implant Problems: Broken or bent implants
Occasionally an implant will break or bend. This happens because it is composed of metal. The implant can, however, be replaced to remedy the problem.
Dental Implant Problems: Smoking and health
If you are a smoker, you should seriously consider quitting before getting dental implants. Smokers heal more slowly and this may increase your chances of dental implant problems. You may also experience dental implant complications if you suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, or another condition that impairs bone growth. Poor blood supply to the bone will have a negative impact on the success of your dental implant surgery.
Always follow the instructions of your dentist when undergoing implant surgery. As discussed above, fewer than 5% of all patients experience dental implant problems. Most patients are thrilled at being able to restore the look of their mouth and their self-confidence.
Do not despair if you encounter any of these dental implant problems. If you have taken care to select a good dentist or dental implant technician, they will do their best to fix the problems. You may have to wait for the mouth to heal and try again, but you will ultimately be able to enjoy the improved look, comfort, and ease of eating and talking that dental implants provide.