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What if my dental implant doesn't work properly?

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What if my dental implant doesn't work properly?

While dental implant procedures are typically successful and failure rare, it does occur. If failure does happen, no need to panic — our Langley dentists at Willowbrook Dental Clinic are here to guide you through what to look for and what might be next if your implant fails. 

How does a dental implant work?

There are three parts to most conventional dental implants:

  1. A titanium component that bonds with the bone via osseointegration
  2. An attachment (abutment)
  3. A crown fixed to the attachment that aligns with your existing teeth 

If one of these gets broken or becomes loose, issues with any of these parts can become a problem. 

While implants are made of metal, osseointegration is the process that makes them work. Throughout this biological process, living bone cells produced by the body grow to surround the surface of the implant and anchor it to your jawbone. Healthy bone gradually continues to grow around the implant. 

However, if osseointegration doesn't happen in the way it should, this can occasionally lead to issues after implantation. 

What are signs of a failing dental implant?

If osseointegration has not occurred or properly progressed, or if the bone has not developed correctly around the dental implant, pain, swelling or infection may occur around the implant site. However, this is not always true. 

An implant might also begin to move or wobble slightly when a patient speaks or chews (there's a chance that your dentist will be the first person to detect this movement). Dental implants should not move. If your dentist notices that your implant is moving, they may recommend an X-Ray to check your bone growth. This will likely allow us to see significant bone loss surrounding the implant's metal component. 

What is the risk of my dental implant failing?

While most dental implant procedures will prove successful, some patients will face an increased risk for dental implant failure. If you have any of these risk factors, your dentist might recommend you consider another tooth replacement option:

  • Some medications
  • Smoking
  • Ongoing cancer treatment 
  • Diseases such as osteoporosis which can impact bone strength and density
  • Conditions such as gum disease or bruxism (can damage a healing implant)

What should I do if I notice an issue with my dental implant?

If you see a problem with your dental implant, contact your dentist to book an examination. Your dentist will be able to remove a failed implant while you are under local anesthesia. No bone graft will be needed if the bone around the area of the implant being removed is intact. 

If your dentist detects bone loss, they may recommend a bone graft to strengthen the area before replacing your failed implant with a new one. Before a new implant is placed, the bone graft will need to heal. During this time, your dentist will brief you on how you can reduce the risk of failure, such as quitting smoking, waiting to complete other dental treatments depending on the condition or other measures.

How can I reduce the risk of complications with my dental implant?

Before your dentist places your implant, you'll be asked about risk factors that may threaten the success of this treatment method. Always tell your dentist of any changes to your health or medical history, such as changes in medical conditions or medications, since these can affect osseointegration and healing. 

Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is also critical to avoiding dental implant problems. Remember to brush twice daily and rinse with antibacterial mouthwash to keep your gums healthy and free of bacteria while your new tooth settles. 

Do you have questions or concerns about dental implants that weren't addressed here? Contact our team of dental professionals at Willowbrook Dental Clinic to schedule a consultation. 

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