A dental implants is a structure that can help to replace a missing tooth. The implant itself is placed into or onto your jawbone, serving as an artificial tooth root. A prosthetic tooth called a crown is attached to the implant.
Generally speaking, a dental implant is designed to be a permanent fixture in your mouth. In fact, studies have reported a 90 to 95 percent
success rate of dental implants over a period of 10 years.
However, it’s also possible for a dental implant to fail in the months or years following its placement. There are several factors that can contribute to this.
- how long implants last
- why they may fail
- how a failed implant is treated
How long do Dental implants last?
Dental implants are intended to be permanent. This is because they interface directly with the jawbone, becoming bonded with surrounding bone tissue through a process called osseointegration.
When osseointegration is complete, the material of the implant and the surrounding bone have fused. Because of this, the implant can serve as an artificial tooth root, forming a solid foundation for a prosthetic tooth.
While the implant itself is designed to be permanent, it’s possible that the crown attached to it may need to be replaced due to normal wear and tear. About 50 to 80 percent
of crowns may need to be replaced in 15 to 20 years.
What factors can influence whether a Dental Implants will fail?
While dental implants can last a lifetime for many people, in some cases, they can fail. Generally speaking, implant failure typically happens when something interferes with osseointegration or the healing process.
Factors that may cause implant failure to occur include:
- Insufficient care and maintenance
Oral hygiene is just as important for implants as it is for your actual teeth. Accumulation of plaque can lead to gum disease, which can damage both your gums and jawbone.
When plaque buildup affects the area around an implant, it’s called peri-implant disease. The early stages of peri-implant disease are reversable. However, if it’s left untreated, it can progress to a condition called peri-implantitis, which can lead to implant failure.
Because of this, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene when you have an implant. This includes:
- brushing at least twice a day
- flossing daily
- limiting your intake of sugary foods
- visiting your dentist for checkups every 6 months
- Insufficient bone
Endosteal implants need to remain stably anchored in your jawbone. Because of this, it’s possible for an implant to fail if there’s not enough jawbone present to effectively secure it in place.
Prior to implant placement, a thorough examination of the jawbone is performed. This can include X-rays and 3D modeling to help determine the bone quality of the potential implant site.
If insufficient bone is present, some people may opt to undergo a procedure like bone grafting or sinus lifting prior to receiving an endosteal implant.
Bone loss over time can also destabilize an implant. This can be due to things such as:
- peri-implant disease
- other medical conditions that impact bone health
It’s been found that dental implants have a lower success rate in people who smoke. In fact, some research
indicates that overall implant failure rates are 11 percent in smokers, compared with 5 percent for nonsmokers.
Smoking may cause implant failure because it can interfere with blood flow to the affected area, negatively impacting osteointegration and the healing process. Smoking is also a risk factor for gum disease.
- Teeth grinding
If you grind your teeth or experience any occlusal trauma, it can cause fracture of the implant, loosening or fracture of the screw, or fracture of the porcelain on the crown. This is because the repeated grinding motions — or trauma — can cause tiny movements of the implant, which can interfere with the osseointegration process.
- Medical conditions
Several medical conditions have been associated with dental implant failure, including:
- a weakened immune system
- bleeding disorders
- cardiovascular disorders like high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and congestive heart failure
Dental implants may be more likely to fail in older adults. This is because they may have other underlying medical or bone conditions. Healing may also be slower in older adults.
- Medications or treatments
Some medications or treatments can also influence implant failure. These include:
- immunosuppressive drugs
- blood-thinning medications
- radiation therapy
- An inexperienced surgeon
It’s important to have an experienced surgeon place your dental implants. An inexperienced surgeon can contribute to implant failure via:
- poorly designed implants
- improper placement of the implant
- tissue trauma during implant placement
- attaching a crown before an implant is stable
What happens if a Dental Implants fails?
It’s important that you see your dentist or periodontist if you have symptoms that point to a failing implant. Some potential signs of implant failure to look out for include:
- an implant that moves
- pain, particularly when you’re biting or chewing
- signs of peri-implantitis, which can include the following symptoms around the implant:
- receding gums
Treating a failed implant
An implant that’s failed can be removed using local anesthesia. Sometimes an implant can be replaced. Some research has found that replacing single dental implants at the same location has an overall success rate of 71 percent