Dental Implant Problems

Dental implants are excellent tooth replacement option for those who are missing one or more teeth. Due to their specialized three-part structure, part of which extends all the way down into the jawbone, dental implants mimic all of the structural parts of a tooth, from the roots to the crown. While dental implants are not a good option for children or for those with considerable bone loss, as a fully formed jawbone with enough healthy mass in which to embed the implant fixture is a necessity – they enjoy a high success rate for most (around 95%) and can provide a lifetime of easy wearing, attractive new teeth that are simple to take care of, as well.

Minor and Short-Term Problems Following Dental Implant Surgery

As in all surgeries, minor or short-term problems following dental implant surgery are fairly routine. It is not uncommon to experience pain and/or sensitivity at the surgical site, nor is it surprising or even concerning to have some minor bleeding, bruising, or even localized swelling. Other short-term issues following dental implant surgery include possible infection at the surgical site, gum recession, damage to the nerves or oral tissues. Less commonly, cracked teeth and sinus problems can also result from dental implant surgery.

Infections can cause a whole host of other issues, so it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs of infection, including increased pain, redness, swelling, or oozing around the surgical site. This would necessitate treatment to clear the infection and a careful evaluation of the integrity of the dental implant.

Gum recession can occur if and when the gum tissues beings to pull back from the implant, creating another issue that your dentist should evaluate promptly.

If a dental implant is installed in close proximity to a nerve, nerve damage can occur. Signs and symptoms of nerve damage include pain, tingling, and feelings of numbness. While this doesn’t typically cause other problems, unless the nerve affected is the inferior alveolar nerve (IAN), it can be a troublesome side effect that does not go away. If you suspect that the IAN has been impacted, you should contact your dentist right away for an evaluation. Signs and symptoms include constant tingling, numbness, or tickling sensations around the mouth, lips, and/or chin.

Less commonly, sinusitis can result from dental implant surgery as implants can intrude into sinus cavities and cause infection or even simple swelling. If a great deal of force is applied to an existing tooth during the implant surgery, it is also possible that there could be cracked teeth that might require repair. Like natural teeth, implants can also crack and break, so it is important to take care with them just as you would your other teeth.

More Serious Long- Term Problems Following Dental Implant Surgery

More serious long-term problems following dental implant surgery are less common. These include peri-implantitis and the body’s rejection of a dental implant.

Peri-implantitis is a form of gum disease. Like the more common form of advanced gum disease, periodontitis, peri-implantitis is an inflammatory disease that eventually leads to bone loss. This bone loss can threaten the integrity of the dental implant. Typically, peri-implantitis progresses over a period of around five years and is most often spotted by the tell-tale signs of blood and swelling around the implant long after the initial healing period has ended.

Rarely, the body can also reject the dental implant. Given the biocompatibility of materials used in dental implants, such as titanium and zirconium, this is not common; it is possible, however, if the patient has a rare allergy to that specific metal.

Aftercare to Reduce the Risks of Problems Following Dental Implant Surgery

Following dental implant surgery, the best ways to encourage healing and get on the road to recovery include getting some quality rest, avoiding hard, chewy, or otherwise difficult to eat foods, and taking over-the-counter pain meds for a few days. Barring any serious problems, after two to six months have passed, the implant will have successfully fused with the jawbone and you will be ready to have the implant crown placed. In the meantime, if you notice any signs of infection, nerve damage, gum recession, or anything else that seems concerning, check in with your dentist. While dental implants take some time and patience in the healing stage, many find that they are well worth the trouble in the end.

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