Fatigue Failure

Dental implants can fail for several reasons, including lack of osseointegration (fusion to the surrounding bone) or peri-implantitis (a post-op infection causing inflammation of the surrounding bone and gum tissues). However, dental implant failure in the long term can be caused by what is known as the fatigue phenomenon. This phenomenon was first discussed in a 1964 article called General Principles for Fatigue Testing of Metals, published in the International Organization for Standardization. The article describes the changes that can occur to metal materials when under intense “cycles” of stress or pressure for a significant period of time. This is most applicable to implant dentistry when dental professionals are considering a dental implant for a patient with bruxism. Bruxism is the repeated grinding or clenching of the teeth, usually at night, that can cause teeth to crack or cause temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Patients with bruxism are more likely to experience implant failure due to fatigue.