Dental implants offer a permanent solution to replacing missing teeth and provide a massive improvement in the quality of the patient’s life. While dental implants are usually associated with a success rate of 95% or more, occasionally errors at the hands of an unskilled dentist or lack of care by the patient may result in dental implant failure. These failures may occur immediately after the completion of the treatment, or even after several years have passed by.
Early Dental Implant Failure
Loss of dental implant occurring within a few weeks to a few months after the procedure is termed as early implant failure. Any form of interference in the healing process of the surgical site after the placement of implants may result in early dental implant failure. These may include –
Infections at Surgical Site:
Failure to follow the dentist’s post-operative instructions or in maintaining oral hygiene may result in infections at the site of the dental implant. If the infection is left untreated, it may cause peri-implantitis, which is the most common complication occurring during the healing period of the dental implant surgery. Peri-implantitis is an inflammatory reaction and interferes with the stability of the dental implant, resulting in its failure and loss.
Poor Quality and Quantity of Bone:
The success of the dental implant procedure is directly proportional to the quality of the bone it is drilled in. Dental implants undergo a process known as osseointegration with the surrounding bone, which stabilizes the implant and allows it to withstand forces much like a normal tooth. Poor quality or insufficient bone quantity interferes with the osseointegration process, which will eventually lead to the failure of the implant.
Good overall health also contributes to the success of dental implants. People suffering from debilitating diseases like AIDS, uncontrolled diabetes, collagen disorders, osteoporosis, or those undergoing bisphosphonate and steroid therapy are at higher risk of dental implant failures. The health conditions of such individuals hamper the healing and regenerative process of the bone surrounding the implant and prevent osseointegration from taking place properly.
Late Dental Implant Failure
Dental implant failure may occur even years after the successful integration of the dental implant with the surrounding bone. Known as late dental implant failure, there may be several reasons for this –
Infections that lead to peri-implantitis can occur months or years after the dental implant procedure, as well. This is because infections are directly related to a lack of adequate oral hygiene around the site of the dental implant. Left untreated, it leads to peri-implantitis, which results in loss of bone support around the dental implant. Loss of bone will ultimately lead to failure of the implant.
Excessive Loading of the Dental Implant:
While dental implants successfully replace the functions of a natural tooth, care should always be maintained about putting it under excessive load. Biting down on hard foods or using implant-supported teeth to eat hard, chewy items should preferably be avoided. At the same time, it is the job of the dentist to ensure adequate mechanics with regards to the dental implant. Any form of a discrepancy between the support offered by the abutment and the load delivered onto the implant may cause the dental implant to fail.
Inadequate Treatment Planning:
The dental implant procedure is a technique-sensitive one and should only be done by the hands of a skilled and well-qualified dentist. It requires good expertise and adequate treatment planning to ensure the success and longevity of the dental implant. Care has to be taken in terms of the number, type, and angulation of the implants to be installed. Any form of shortcomings on the dentist’s part may lead to fracture or loosening of the implant.