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Dental Implants Problems

The average failure rate of dental implants is below 5% which is very satisfactory considering that the placement of dental implants is a complicate procedure that includes one or two surgical phases. Unfortunately in some cases, dental implant problems are possible to occur.

Common implant problems leading to dental implant failure

Several problems may appear as result of complications during or after the dental implant treatment, but they do not always lead to implant failure.

Dental implant complications that usually cause increased failure risk are mostly those related to:
a) the osseointegration process and
b) the structural integrity of the implant or bone.

The main dental implant problems leading to implant failures include:

Implant failures are usually caused by a combination of these problems due to their strong correlation. A surgery error can lead to infection which could lead to osseointegration failure and finally to the loss of implant.

Several causes may lead to these dental implant problems. Main reasons are:

Causes of Osseointegration related dental implant problems

The following conditions can disturb the normal osseointegration process (the bonding of the implant to the jaw bone) causing dental implant problems:

  • Smoking - Several research studies have shown that implant failure rates are double or more in smokers than in non-smokers. Increased failure rates are linked with the reduced blood flow around the implant which could delay or inhibit the healing process. Other studies have shown that smoking may affect bone density which could cause implant failures both in the short and long term. Dentists recommend that implant patients should stop smoking (at least for a week before and the first 3 months after the surgery).
  • Medical issues - Patients with reduced healing ability (people with uncontrolled type II diabetes, hemophilia or poor immune systems) have increased risk of osseointegration problems and infections that could cause dental implants failure. Several drugs used for cancer and osteoporosis treatment may also cause implant complications.
  • Immediate loading - some dentists prefer to place the abutment and crown immediately after placing the implant without waiting for the implant to bond with the jawbone. The pressure applied to the implant may disturb the osseointegration process and cause dental implant failure. Until the jawbone completely heals around a dental implant, the biting pressures should be kept to the minimum possible to protect the bone build-up process.
  • Implant rejection - Dental implants are made of bio-compatible materials and rejections are very rare. However in some cases the immune system may attack and reject the implant in a way similar to the rejection of live tissues used in organ transplants. The tissues around the implant become inflamed and painful. Finally the implant becomes loose and has to be removed.
  • Allergic reaction - Allergies to titanium, although extremely rare, may not allow the osseointegration of the implant and cause failure.

Causes of infection related dental implant problems

Infections are the most usual dental implant problems that can lead to failure. An infection around the implant not only inhibits the process of osseointegration but also causes further bone loss. Dental implant infections are usually described by the term peri-implantitis, which is actually a type of periodontal disease. Peri-implantitis causes inflammation of the surrounding tissues and bone loss around the implant, making the implant unable to bond with the jawbone. If the implant becomes loose it will have to be removed. An implant infection can be caused due to:

  • implant contamination
  • poor sterilization
  • poor material quality
  • poor oral hygiene

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Last update: 03/03/2014