Dental Implant Failure: 3 Reasons It Occurs and How to Prevent It

By Vinni K. Singh, DDS on September 23, 2021
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Consider this scenario: you’ve lost a couple 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?

A lot of it has to do with how you take care of your teeth. While it is rare, dental implants fail for primarily 3 reasons:

1. Peri-implantitis

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.

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. 

How to improve your success rate: A good oral hygiene routine, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, regular maintenance visits with your dental hygienist, and keeping health conditions under control will improve the success rate of your dental implant. Consult your AAID dentist for more information on how to adopt healthy dental habits.

2. Parafunctional habits

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 dentist so that proper measures can be taken to improve the success rate of your implant.

How to improve your success rate: Your dentist may recommend techniques to reduce stress or improve your sleep. An appliance, such as a bite plate or night guard, may also be suggested. 

3. Osseointegration

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.

How to improve your success rate: It’s imperative that you provide a thorough medical and dental history to your implant dentist 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.

Dental implants can last many years with proper care and maintenance. It’s critical that you choose a trained and experienced dentist and discuss any dental and medical history prior to beginning your procedure to ensure higher success rates.

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.  

The dentist consulted for this article was: Vinni K. Singh, DDS

Dr. Singh was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and attended dental school at the prestigious University of the Pacific in San Francisco. After earning her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree, Dr. Singh has committed to furthering her expertise in implant and restorative dentistry by completing hundreds of implant cases each year. She is a graduate of the implant continuum at Loma Linda University, is an active member of the Pacific Coast Dental Implant Study Club, and has completed dozens of pro-bono implant cases for the less fortunate. She is actively working to achieve credentialing with the AAID and is currently pursuing her graduate diploma at the world-renowned Kois Center in Seattle. She has a private practice in San Jose, California that is focused on elevating the patient experience and empowering patients to achieve optimal oral health.

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Topics: what to know about implants, health connection