Do Dental Implants Fall Out? Facts About Dental Implant Failure

Dental implants are screw-like metal implant posts, usually made of titanium, inserted into the jaw bone through surgery. They fuse with the natural bone through osseointegration and serve as a sturdy foundation for replacement teeth. Although dental implants are generally considered safe and a highly-successful procedure, they are not without risks.

One of the most common problems with dental implants is implant failure. While dental implant failure is not common, it can happen, and it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms so that you can seek dental treatment as soon as possible.

Dental implant failure results from the implant failing to osseointegrate with the jawbone. As a result, the implant loosens over time. In normal cases, the implant posts fuse with the jaw bone within 3 to 6 months after surgery. During this biological process, your body produces living and healthy bone cells that grow around the implant surface, anchoring them in place. Over time, the bone cells and metal posts fuse, creating a strong foundation for your artificial teeth.

However, in some cases, this does not happen. The implants may not fuse with the jawbone properly or become loose over time. Implant failure may occur days, weeks, months, or even years after surgery. As such, implant failure can be categorised into two: early and late implant failure.

Early failure is the failure to establish osseointegration and happens within the first few months after surgery, while late failure is the lack of function by the implants and can occur a year or more later. While early failure may be due to biological complications, late failure may arise from either biological or mechanical.

Causes of Dental Implant Failure

Some factors can increase your risk of dental implant failure, including:

  • Poor Oral Hygiene.
    If you don’t care for your mouth and teeth, plaque can accumulate and lead to bacterial infection. This can lead to peri-implant diseases, like peri-implantitis. This condition is characterised by inflammation and bone loss around the implant, which can eventually lead to dental failure.

  • Active Gum Disease.
    Periodontitis is a gum disease that involves inflammation of the gums that leads to alveolar bone loss. Patients with this condition are more prone to implant failure as the bone continuously shrinks, preventing the implant from fusing with it. Because of this, it is very crucial that periodontitis patients must have their condition managed and controlled prior to dental implant treatment.

  • Smoking.
    Smoking is a known risk factor for developing gum disease or periodontal disease. It can also cause delayed wound healing and decreased calcium absorption needed for osseointegration.

  • Bruxism.
    Bruxism is a condition that involves clenching or grinding of the teeth. It can put unnecessary stress on the titanium implant and cause it to loosen over time.

  • Radiation Therapy.
    Some ongoing cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy to the head and neck area, can damage the bone tissue and affect healing. This can make dental implants less likely to fuse with the jawbone or cause them to loosen over time.

  • Diabetes.
    Diabetes is a medical condition characterised by high blood sugar levels. It can delay wound healing and increase the risk of infection, leading to dental implant failure.

  • Age.
    Implant failure is most likely to happen in older patients because they tend to have poor bone density, health conditions, and longer healing periods.

  • Insufficient Bone Density.
    Adequate bone density is necessary for dental implants to fuse with the jawbone. If there isn’t enough bone, the implant will not be able to fuse, or if they do, it may only be partial. This can lead to instability and, eventually, failure.

  • Certain Medications.
    Some medications, such as steroids, can impede healing. Some heartburn and antidepressant medications may also reduce new bone growth. These medications can alter bone healing which can lead to the non-fusion of the implant to the bone.
two women dentist and patient having fun talking

Signs of Dental Implant Failure

Below are some implant failure symptoms to look out for:

  • Persistent and severe pain and discomfort around the implant site
  • Swelling
  • Redness or tenderness in the gums
  • Loose or shifting implant
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the implant area
  • Gum recession or gums pulling away from the implant
  • Difficulty biting and chewing
  • Loss of taste

Note that some of these symptoms are considered normal after implant surgery. However, if these symptoms persist or suddenly appear weeks or months after dental implant placement, they may be implant failure symptoms.

Can Dental Implants Be Replaced if They Fail?

In some cases, failed dental implants may need to be replaced. Your dentist or oral surgeon must remove the implants first and check what caused the failure. This allows them to develop a new treatment plan.

If the implants are removed within the first few months, there is a higher chance that they can be replaced. However, if the implants have been in place for more than a year, it may not be possible to replace them. This is because the bone around the implant may have shrunken, making it difficult to place new implants. Sometimes your dentist will perform bone grafting surgery to rebuild the bone, which may take a long healing time. Also, this may only be possible if the implant post did not leave a large hole in the jawbone when it was removed.

What Should You Do if a Dental Implant Falls Out?

Here are some helpful tips on what you can do if your dental implant falls out:

  • Visit or schedule an appointment with your implant dentist as soon as possible.
    This is considered an emergency, and you need to be seen by a professional immediately.

  • If you can find the fallen implant screw, place it in a clean container and bring the container with you when you go to the dentist.
    Avoid touching the implant site with your fingers or tongue to avoid infection. In some cases, only the crown comes loose and falls out. In this case, your dentist may be able to reattach the crown.

  • If your implant is in place, but the dental crown or artificial tooth attached to it is loose, avoid wiggling or biting down on the tooth.
    If your implant is intact but not your crown, avoid chewing on that side of your mouth. Your dentist needs to check and see if the implant is secure in your jawbone.

  • Wash your mouth with warm saltwater.
    This can help cleanse the area and reduce swelling.

  • Use gauze to apply pressure if there is bleeding.
    If bleeding is present, avoid spitting, as this can lead to further bleeding. Instead, control the bleeding by applying pressure in the area with gauze.

  • Apply an ice pack to the outside of your cheek to minimise swelling.
    Ice packs can also help with pain and discomfort. Do this on and off for 15 to 20 minutes, and avoid placing the ice directly on your skin.

  • Take over-the-counter pain medication if you are in pain.
    Pain medications can help reduce swelling and pain. Ask your dentist which medication you can take before taking it.

  • Eat on the opposite side of the implant site.
    This prevents food and bacteria from getting into the empty implant site.

Final Thoughts

A dental implant is an effective tooth replacement, helping restore your confidence and teeth functions. However, while a dental implant procedure is generally safe, there is still a possibility that it may fail. Patients are advised to be aware of the implant failure symptoms so that, if they occur, they can seek treatment as soon as possible.

If you’re considering this treatment but are wondering if you are a good candidate or have concerns about problems with dental implants, contact us now to book a consultation.

Peel Dental Studio is a state-of-the-art clinic with a team of dentists with years of experience performing dental implants. We utilise the latest technology in the industry to help us provide you with positive results. Your initial consultation involves a dental implant assessment to see if you are eligible and treatment planning, which includes understanding your medical history. They will also discuss the procedure, what you can expect, and the potential problems with dental implants that you may experience. This way, you can make an informed decision about whether dental implants are right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Bruxism or grinding and clenching of teeth can increase your risk of dental implant failure. This habit can put too much pressure on the implant, causing it to loosen and eventually fall out. If you have bruxism, your dentist will likely recommend wearing a mouth guard at night to protect your teeth and implants.

Like other dental procedures, this varies, depending on how many implants you need, the type of implant you require, whether or not you have dental insurance, your dentist and location, and if you need additional procedures, such as bone graft and sinus lift. On average, you may expect to pay between $4,000 to $6000 for a single implant. However, if you need additional procedures, you may pay up to $11,000 per tooth. For a more accurate quotation, book a consultation at Peel Dental Studio

Dental implants can replace your missing teeth. This improves your appearance and restores your biting, chewing, and speaking abilities. As a result, you can become confident to smile more often and socialise. This procedure can also prevent bone loss and shrinkage in your jawbone and doesn’t cause damage to adjacent teeth like other treatment options, such as dental bridges. Lastly, it can improve your oral health because brushing and flossing your teeth is easier without worrying about teeth gaps.

Your dentist will give anaesthesia during dental implant surgery, so it shouldn’t hurt. You may experience pain and discomfort when the effects of anaesthetics wear off, but they should go away after a few days.

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Peel Dental Studio

Dr. Bailey formerly served on the Australian Dental Association as President, Vice President Treasurer and Country Councillor. He was on the Australian Dental Association Federal Council and has always been keen to give back to the profession that has been his life. He has tutored student dentists at the Oral Health Centre in Perth.