Dental Implant Moving
While approximately 98 percent of patients with dental implants will have long-term success with them, some issues can occur. One such issue is if the implant or crown become loose.
A dental implant is designed to remain in place securely. Because they are not attached to the periodontal ligament but rather, are implanted directly into the bone, there should be no movement once the implant and bone have fused together. Movement is a sign that something is wrong with the implant itself or with the underlying bone tissue.
If you feel like your tooth or implant is moving or loose, don’t panic—it can likely be repaired. If you notice movement, it is important to schedule a visit with your dental health care provider as soon as possible to identify the problem.
The following symptoms are associated with a loose or damaged implant or crown:
- Discomfort around the implant
- Gums that are painful
- You feel the implant moving
- The gums around the implant are swollen
- There is bleeding around the implant
- You are unable to chew or bite down properly
What Could be Going On?
A dental implant may move for a number of reasons. Many times it is the crown or the abutment that is the problem, rather than the implant itself. The following are some of the reasons why your implant feels loose or like it is moving:
- Often, a small screw connecting the crown to the actual implant may be loose. If it is loose, the repair is simple. Your dental health care provider will drill a small hole into the crown to access the screw, tighten it, and then cover the hole with filling material. The procedure usually takes around 10 minutes.
- If you are in the middle of the implant process, it’s possible that your healing cap has fallen out. If so, it is necessary to have it re-attached immediately so the gums don’t grow over the implant site.
- Sometimes the issue may be a problem with how your bone is healing, particularly if the movement is occurring shortly after the implant was placed.
- Rarely, more serious issues can cause a dental implant to move. For example, a part of the crown or abutment has been broken. If this is the case, the implant itself is not compromised but you will need to have a new abutment and crown made and attached to the dental implant.
- Again, while rare, it is possible that a part of the implant itself has broken. If this is the case, unfortunately the only remedy is to have a new tooth implant placed after removing the fractured one.
What to Do (and NOT Do)
First and foremost, contact your dental health care provider immediately, even if you are not experiencing pain or discomfort. Prompt treatment could mean the difference between a simple fix and the need for a complete replacement. Try to get in to see your provider within 48 hours of noticing symptoms.
Until You Can Get to The Dentist
If you are experiencing pain or if the tissues around your implant are swollen or inflamed, you can apply ice (wrapped in a towel) to your cheek where the loose implant is located.
If the crown fell out, do not los it! It may be able to be re-attached. Otherwise, a new one will have to be made which can be costly.
Eat a soft food diet and protect the tooth by being avoiding chewing on the side where the loose implant is located and being careful when you chew.
Continue with good oral hygiene to prevent bone loss, gum disease, or inflammation around the implant while it is moving.
Avoid moving the implant. Rocking the implant in an attempt to get it back into place will make the implant even more unstable. Even moving it with your tongue can cause further damage.
Never try to take it out yourself. Trying to remove an implant yourself can cause a whole host of new dental problems, such as damaging healthy teeth, the bone your implant was secured to, and/or the tissues around it. It just isn’t worth it.
At Your Dental Visit
When you see your dental health care provider, they will likely carefully remove the crown to be able to inspect the implant and take x-rays to determine or confirm the cause of the problem. At this visit, your dentist may provide the following treatments:
- Prescribing antibiotics if there is a bacterial infection
- Tightening the crown if the movement is isolated to the crown and not the implant itself
- Removing the crown and/or the abutment to look for broken or damaged parts
- Replacing damaged parts if possible
If the implant itself has fractured or failed, the next step would be to have a new dental implant inserted. In this case, the implant area will be cleaned and will need to heal for several months before another implant can be placed.
Loose Implant for Snap-On Dentures
Sometimes an implant that has been placed to secure snap-on dentures can become loose. Luckily, in this case, the most common reason is a locator abutment that is loose. If this is the case, your dentist can tighten the abutment and solve the problem.
Very rarely, the implant itself may have failed. If so, the only fix is to remove it and place a new one. Once the new implant has healed—a process that generally takes a few months—you will then be able to use it again to secure your snap-on dentures.
If you feel like your dental implant is loose or moving, it is imperative to contact your dental health care provider immediately, but also try not to panic. As you can see, there are many reasons why this may happen and many have relatively easy fixes. The chances that the implant itself is failing are rare, but without prompt and appropriate assessment and treatment, those chances increase. Stay calm but vigilant to make sure you are maximizing your chances of keeping your implant healthy and secure.