Dental Implants Problems - What's Common

I'm considering getting dental implants, but I'm worried about side effects and complications. I've heard that they can cause nerve damage and even bone loss. And other problems like infection and breaking. Are they worth the risks?

Doctor Answers 27

Dental implant concerns

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Today, dental implants really are the standard for replacing missing teeth. Any surgery has risks, but the benefits (preserving bone, no cutting down of adjacent teeth) make implants the first choice if you've lost a tooth. If you are healthy and have experienced doctors, I don't think you need to worry much about complications. I have seen implants fail in smokers more than once though, so that would be a real concern.

Cleveland Dentist

Common Dental Implant Problems

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Having dental implant surgery is completely safe with minimal risks associated with it. You need to find a qualified dentist and/or specialists such as a periodontist (gum and bone specialist) or oral surgeon. Ask him or her how many cases they perform per week and how many years they have been doing it. As long as a proper history is taken, a good clinical examination is performed and a 3D CAT scan is taken prior to surgery, the risks are minimized. In medicine and dentistry we cannot guarantee results. However, having said that, we minimize risk by careful pre-operative planning. There is an old saying builders have: measure twice-cut once. As long as your dental healthcare professional adheres to this principle, your risk of any complications or infections or nerve damage will be negligible. 

Herbert Veisman, DDS
Toronto Periodontist

Dental Implant Complications

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Most studies report a 95% or better success rate with dental implants.  The most common complication is that the implant just doesn’t “take” to the bone, in which case it comes out very easily and painlessly.  A new implant can then be replaced either immediately or after waiting several months for the bone to heal.

It’s very important that you chose a dentist who is experienced in implant placement.  He should be able to answer all your questions regarding possible complications involved with your specific situation.  Infections are very rare, since implants are placed under sterile conditions, the patient should always be covered with an antibiotic regiment.  Complications such as nerve damage are preventable by studying the exact nerve location to determine appropriate implant size to prevent collision. 

Sounds like you are on the right track by doing your diligence before starting with dental implant therapy.  Let me just tell you that I've placed dental implants on numerous family members over the years.  If I needed a dental implant I would not hesitate getting one myself.  While no treatment works perfectly 100% of the time, implant therapy is one of the most predictable procedures in dentistry today.  Good Luck!

Peter Mann, DDS
Manhattan Dentist

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Risks with Implants

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34 years ago, when I completed Dental School, the success rate of Implants was about 50%. That rate has gradually climbed to about 96% today. There are a few failures, but diagnosed and placed correctly, you should not worry about any serious side effects.

Mickey Bernstein, DDS
Memphis Dentist

Implant Problems

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Implants have a success rating approaching 99% and should not be associated with nerve damage. Implants are known to prevent the ongoing bone loss after teeth have been removed/lost. Infections are a risk associated with all surgical procedures. However, implants are the best option for tooth replacement. The benefits outweigh the risks. 

Dental Implants Problems - What's Common?

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What are common problems with Dental Implants? More importantly, how worried should you be about having problems with Dental Implants?

The answer is there is a low problem rate. Most people have dental implants placed and then the teeth rebuilt on them without any major issues and they work well for many years, possibly even your whole life.

Like ANY minor surgical procedure, there are always some risks. I have found after twenty years as a dental implant dentist in Denver, that almost all of the problems can be prevented by impeccable pre-planning. 

Most of the time an oral surgeon or a periodontist puts the implant root in. After it heals then the cosmetic dentist connects the post (the abutment) and then the final teeth or crowns. SOme of the more common problems or complications from dental implants are:

  • poor alignment, leading to poor aesthetics or inadequate strength
  • infection
  • pain, more common if the jaw needs grafts
  • bite issues leading to loosening/failure and loss of the dental implant

I tell my patients, "Don't let anyone put the implant root in until I tell you its OK." The cosmetic dentist needs to organize and direct any of the other specialists on exactly where the implant should go. 

I also tell my patients- "let's compare other risks". Think about the risks you face everyday when you drive your car: some one could run a red light, a pedestrian could step off the curb, an old man could have a heart attack and swerve, my tire could blow out...but yet we all still get in our cars everyday and log many miles without problems. Dental implants are similar in this way.

Since it is minor surgery there are ALWAYS some risks. Be sure to ask about anything in particular that worries you. There are always alternatives, but each of those has their own set of risks as well. 

Dental implants, well planned by a cosmetic dentist, and with great communication inside the implant team, are highly predictable and produce beautiful results. Thanks, Scott Greenhalgh, DDS

The benefits far outweigh any potential risks

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Like any surgical procedure there are some risks involved. However, for dental implants the rewards far outweigh any risks you may encounter. Dental implants have become the top procedure for most patients suffering from missing teeth. There are some temporary side effects and potential long term effects, but these are rare and should not overly concern you. Pain & discomfort, swelling, bruising and bleeding are all temporary side effects after surgery. Rarely: infection, nerve damage, sinus problems and dental implant failure can occur. However, these can be heavily mitigated by following your doctor’s post-operative care instructions, sticking to a soft-diet and keeping the implant site clean.  

Implant side effects

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Dental implants typically have few side effects. However implants can fail. Overall implants have better than a 95% success rate. I've seen implants fail for a variety of reasons.  In my office I divide the treatment between myself, a surgeon and my technician.  Each person has a specific role in the process, and that person studies new techniques and materials so that he can attain the best result.  

Neal Nealis, DDS
Chicago Dentist

95% Success Rate

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I would say dental implant complications are very rare. Yes, there can be minimal post operative issues like swelling, soreness,etc... but overall the success rate for dental implants is over 95%.  Generally, dental implants will actually help prevent future bone loss as they help support the bone.  I would recommend getting a 3D CT scan done to evaluate the bone prior to surgery.  This also helps the Dr. evaluate the location of any anatomical issues like nerve and sinuses.  If concerned about infection, often we will place our patients on antibiotics after the dental implant procedure.  Overall, since dental implants have such a high success rate, I would say yes they are worth the risk.  Each case and person is different, but I will say that implants are often the best solution to replace a missing or missing teeth.

Getting a positive outcome for dental implants

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Dental implants are not the cause of the problems you described – they are the solution. Untreated decay is a common cause of infection, with broken teeth as well as missing teeth. As for bone loss, dental implants are the preferred method of dealing with missing or damaged teeth because it prevents bone loss.

There are other ways to conceal a broken tooth. But with implants, we’re inserting a tiny metal post that mimics the function of the tooth. The post is hidden by a realistic-looking crown, so no one will ever see it or know it’s there. But that post is important because it’s compatible with tooth and bone. It simulates the root of a tooth and fuses naturally with your jawbone, so it prevents bone loss.

For many patients, the value of dental implants is in “the look.” A skilled dentist can create the appearance of a tooth or teeth even when there is no tooth remaining. But implants are also valued because of the health benefits and because they offer a very long-term solution.

If you see a qualified dentist with experience in dental implants, you’re actually avoiding the problems you described. Dental implants can do amazing things for your health as well as the appearance of your smile, but it’s important to do your research first and make sure you’re seeing a doctor who’s experienced in this technique. 

Gerry J. Casazza, DMD
Massachusetts Dentist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.