Implants are one of the more popular ways to replace missing teeth because the results look and behave just like your natural teeth. Although implant surgery is common, failures can happen. Understanding what failure is, when it can happen, and how to avoid it can help you avoid this troublesome event.
How do implants fail?
Implant failure occurs when the metal implant post, which is inserted into the jaw bone, fails to integrate fully with the bone. Generally, the bone doesn't heal fully around the posts. In some cases the gums may also become infected and pull away from the posts. Implants can also fail after integration, such as by becoming loose or if the bone begins to weaken later.
When does failure usually occur?
Most implant failure occurs within a few days or weeks of the surgery, often before the crown is placed on the implant. Surgical errors, poor bone density or health, and infection are common reasons.
Late failure can happen at any time after the implant has previously healed into place, from months to years down the road. Common causes are gum and bone infections or outside trauma.
Does anything increase the chances of failure?
There are several behaviors and conditions that can increase the chances of experiencing an implant failure, particularly an early failure. These include the following:
Smoking or tobacco product use. The use of tobacco products can slow blood flow and healing in the mouth, preventing implant integration.
Gum disease. Periodontitis leads to receding gums as well as infections in the gums that sometimes spread to the bone. This eats away at both gum and bone tissue so that implant posts can't integrate well.
Peri-implantitis. This is similar to gum disease but it only affects the implant site, leading to an infection that affects integration.
Diabetes. Health conditions that lead to poor circulation and slowed healing, like diabetes, increase the chances for early failure.
Grinding. Tooth grinding can put pressure on the posts, or later the crowns, which increases the chance for failure. Wearing a night guard to prevent grinding can help.
Can another implant be placed after failure?
It depends on the reason for failure. If the base cause of the failure is addressed first so that the chances of success are higher, and if there is sufficient healthy bone and gum tissue, then a second implant can be attempted. Otherwise, you will need to consider a bridge or partial dentures. If only one implant fails and you have another successful implant next to it, another option is to have two crowns placed on the successful implant post.
For more help, talk to a dentist like those at Oral Surgery Associates Inc in your area.