What Can Go Wrong with Dental Implants?

Curious to know the risks of dental implants before, during and after implant.

Doctor Answers 5

Potential complication or risks associated with dental implants

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Complications and risks with dental implants are extremely rare if they are provided by experienced surgeons and restorative dentists. Proper diagnosis, planning, and techniques can eliminate many problems that can arise. Here are possible complications:

  1. Infection or inflammation after placement
  2. Non-union: Means implant does not integrate with bone and remains soft in place
  3. Gradual bone loss- Very rare with current design implants
  4. Fractures- Very rare with current design implants
  5. Nerve damange- If implant is placed too close to lower jaw nerve
  6. Bone loss due to poor positioning- If implant is placed too far off its alignment and if there is not enough bone to begin with.

The overall success rate of implants are 98.6% and above when properly done. Choice of your team dentists and their collaboration greatly affects implant success and longevity.

Bethesda Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Dental implants aren't perfect

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As with everything, nothing is perfect.  Dental implants, when done right, are the longest lasting dental restoration.

Some problems would include: 

  • Not getting the implant completely embedded in bone
  • Not getting the bite correct, thus losing supporting bone
  • Patient with history of bisphosphonates, thus no fusing of bone to implant
  • Incomplete removal of cement from the crown on top of the implant, thus losing supporting bone
  • Incomplete seating of connector to implant, trapping bacteria, thus losing supporting bone

There are others, but these are the most common.

What Can Go Wrong with Dental Implants? What are the Risks of Dental Implants?

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There are a few risks with dental implant surgery but are all minimized to you by ensuring you seek out a qualified and experienced periodontist, oral surgeon or dentist. 
Risk 1- Nerve damage in lower jaw- best way to prevent this risk is to have your specialist take a 3D CAT scan which will show the nerve and help the surgeon plan the surgery such that he or she will stay far away from the this nerve. If the nerve is severed, you will not feel your lip again for the rest of your life. So this is very important. 
Risk 2- Sinus perforation- this is usually less of a problem as dental implants often penetrate the sinus from 1-2 mm and nothing happens. Risk of any infection at the 1-2 mm level is minimal 
Risk 3- Jaw fracture- this can happen in someone with an extreme severely resorbed jawbone, so thin and fragile, that once the surgeon starts to drill into it, the jaw simply snaps. This is very rare.
Risk 4- cutting into adjacent teeth or roots. This is more common and that's why you have to seek out a great surgical specialist who will NOT damage the teeth adjacent to where the implant is being placed. 

There are other negligible risks but the four listed above are the main concerns to any surgeon and patient. 

Herbert Veisman, DDS
Toronto Periodontist

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Implants have become very reliable tooth replacements

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Once an implant has integrated into the bone, there are rarely problems with the implant itself. The problems that occur are mostly related to the crown or parts. For example, if porcelain is placed on the implant, the porcelain can break just like any other restoration. Also the screws can come loose or break inside the implant. This is more common with older implant designs and are not as common in the newer implants.

For the most part, an implant will be a great restoration for a lot longer than it's alternatives.

M. Andrew Atwood, DDS
Bellevue Dentist

Implant problems are possible...

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Most of the time when an implant is properly placed into healthy bone there is not much to worry about. Keeping them clean is the most important thing for patients to do. Over 5 years you can get a little bone loss around the implant which can cause some cosmetic concerns if its placed on the front of the mouth.

Michael J. Thomas, DDS
Los Angeles 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.