Why do dental implants fail and how to prevent it?

Consider this scenario: you’ve lost a couple of teeth and after thorough research, you have decided to replace them with dental implants. You imagine that these dental implants will last decades or maybe even the rest of your life, but you’ve heard that sometimes implants can fail. What causes implants to fail in some people but be successful in others?


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A lot of it has to do with how you take care of your teeth.


While it is rare, dental implants fail for primarily two reasons: peri-implantitis and a lack of osseointegration. Peri-implantitis is essentially gum disease related to implants. This occurs for the same reason that gum disease exists on natural teeth: poor oral hygiene, poor overall health, or parafunctional habits.


Disease-causing bacteria can get into the crevices between teeth and implants. If these bacteria are not adequately removed using a toothbrush, floss, or water irrigator, they can cause inflammation, bleeding, infection, or even bone loss around your dental implant. A good oral hygiene routine and regular maintenance visits with your dental hygienist will improve the success rate of your dental implant.


Those with poor overall health should be particularly aware of how their health condition affects their dental health. For example, patients with diabetes tend to have compromised ability to fight infection, which could exacerbate dental implant problems. Additionally, peri-implantitis can be made worse by smoking, alcohol, and drug use. Consult with your Smiletheory dental team for more information on how to adopt healthy dental habits.


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Parafunctional habits are involuntary habits that you may have such as a nervous tick, nail biting or grinding your teeth subconsciously during sleeping. If you have these habits, it’s important to discuss this with your dental surgeon so that proper measures can be taken to improve the success rate of your implant. Your surgeon may recommend techniques to reduce stress or improve your sleep. An appliance worn on your teeth while you sleep may also be suggested.


The other main reason dental implants fail is due to a lack of osseointegration, which essentially means there isn’t enough bone around the implant to support it. Bone loss on implants occurs for several reasons, many of which are the same as peri-implantitis: bacterial infections that destroy the bone, excessive stress on implants, grinding and clenching teeth, poor oral hygiene, and radiation to the head and neck areas. It’s imperative that you provide a thorough medical and dental history to your implant surgeon prior to commencing treatment to ensure that the appropriate measures are taken to improve implant success.


Despite rare failures, dental implants are still the gold-standard for replacing natural teeth. They can last many years with proper care and maintenance. It’s critical that you discuss any dental and medical history with Dr. Singh prior to beginning your surgery to ensure higher success rates with your implants. A healthy lifestyle will also help maintain your implants for years to come and provide the joy and fulfillment that come with being able to chew and smile with confidence.