19 Apr When Dental Implants Fail
DENTAL IMPLANTS ARE INCREDIBLE
Dental implants help you to maintain your chewing power, prevent damage to adjacent teeth, maintain bite stability, ensure you can eat a full range of foods and remain and have the ability to chew properly and are a fixed tooth replacement when you’ve been unfortunate and lost a tooth. People are supposed to have fixed teeth, not gaps, and certainly not lumps of plastic which are removed and placed in a glass by the bed at night time.
So what happens when dental implants fail? There is a complex interplay between your body and dental implant healing and maintenance. It’ll be easier to break things down to explain what can happen.
EARLY DENTAL IMPLANT FAILURE
Early dental implant failure is when your body rejects the implant, usually before the crown has been placed but anything up to a year after the crown has been secured onto the implant. Why does this happen? Well, it’s often very difficult to tell and frequently there is no reason for it. Studies show whenever an implant is placed, there is a 2% risk of the body rejecting the implant (my personal failure rate is half this, around 1%). Sometimes there is no obvious reason for the failure. In these instances we wait for the area to heal and place another implant, there is a 2% risk of failure each time an implant is placed. Other times, there may be a reason why the implant has failed (infection, smoking, poorly controlled diabetes, complexity of the procedure, experience of the surgeon, stress – this is why we take a medical history before placing an implant to ensure you are suitable for the procedure). If you experience an early failure, I may recommend a blood test with your GP to ensure there are no underlying health issues. If your treatment is more complex, I may request this blood test first.
LATE DENTAL IMPLANT FAILURE
Late dental implant failure is what happens if your implant fails after a year. Despite what you may have been told, implants do not last forever and you can develop issues with them in the future. Why is this? Very simply because your body is constantly dissolving and reforming the bone around your implant. This is natural and part of bone metabolism. The bone around your implant is completely remodelled every 6 months. You may have no problems for many, MANY years, then if you were to become sick, or put on certain medications, the bone reforming process can be interrupted. Implants can also develop gum disease type infection, which can cause problems and in extreme cases lead to loss of the implants.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! Despite this dental implants are still one of the most successful treatment options in dentistry
PREVENTING IMPLANT FAILURE
Preventing dental implant failure requires a strategic approach, where knowledge and skill of your surgeon will play a HUGE role. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I ONLY place and restore dental implants. Many other dentists offer a range of services. Generating a healthy implant restoration and having it last a long time requires excellence in surgery, deep understanding of implant systems, management of the gums, crown material choice and even how the crown which is to be secured to the implant is finished and handled prior to it being fit. Your maintenance appointments with your general dentist and hygienist are also critical. We are aiming to stack the odds in our favour for longevity, instead of having them stacked against us. What does all of this mean? This means dental implants CAN last a long time, IF they are done correctly and maintained well. This can’t be done cheap, which is why my fees are higher than average.
WHEN A DENTAL IMPLANT FAILS
Even after a long time, it can be possible to replace the implant. Sometimes it’s harder to do and may require more work, but it’s usually possible. An absolute must for me is doing everything I can NOW to try and get your implants lasting as long as possible. My premium implants are resistant to gum disease type problems, the materials I use to make your teeth are very specific and my lab know if they don’t make the work perfectly I’ll send it back to have it remade as many times as necessary (fortunately I have a good lab so this is rarely the case!)
I wish it were a black and white answer for you, but it’s much more subtle and complex than that. Which is exactly why I LOVE dental implants.