Unfortunately, all dental implants carry a risk of failure and a periodontist’s primary job is to use a wide variety of available tools and techniques to reduce that risk. A dental implant can include one or more teeth, either separate or joined together. They are generally made out of alloplastic materials like titanium or titanium alloy, but ceramics, bioglass, hydroxyapatite, and aluminum oxides may also be used. Osseointegration, or fusing to the bone, is the measure of success for a dental implant and what material the implant is made from and its surface texture plays a significant role in that success. Other factors for dental implant failure include but are not limited to: the location of the implant in the mouth and its placement in bone; what kind of implant screw is placed over the implant body, and the type of abutment used and how it is placed.
Like any medical procedure, dental implants can fail. The failure rate of implants is low, with only about 5-10% of patients experiencing failure. Dental implant failure can be mitigated by taking into account factors of success. The chances of implant failure are higher in patients who have gum disease, who smoke, who have insufficient or weak jawbone, or who have conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis that can impede healing. Dental implant failure can occur early after the procedure or much later. Early failure factors include an infection at the surgical site, insufficient bone to support the implant hardware, allergic reaction, poor adherence to post-op instructions, and micromovements of the hardware. Late failure factors include tissue and nerve damage at the implant site, foreign body rejection, and injury to the face or jaw that physically dislodges the implant. Signs of failure include problems chewing, pain, swelling, and gum recession.