Dental implants are one of the most consistent and reliable methods to replace a lost tooth. Inserting a post to support an abutment and crown stimulates the jawbone, improves bite strength and restores the appearance of your smile.
Despite these benefits, this restorative dental procedure has a five to 10 percent failure rate. In these cases, the crown or the post may become loose, moving around in your mouth and causing pain.
Why Dental Implants Fail
Implants replace one or more teeth at a time, ranging from a single-tooth restoration to an implant-supported bridge or dentures. Each consists of a titanium post or screw inserted into the jawbone. Before adding a crown, your dentist waits six or more weeks for ossification to occur.
During this time, the post grows into and is secured by the jawbone. Adding the crown evens out your smile and the amount of pressure placed on your teeth.
Failure comes down to two factors: the crown becomes loose or the post is no longer stable. One or more of these concerns may stem from the following:
- Dental hygiene, including not brushing and flossing after having one or more implants inserted.
- Developing gum disease, which can stem from poor dental care.
- Infection spreading from your teeth or gums to your jawbone. Antibiotics can treat this condition in its early stages but if it progresses, your gums develop pockets, an abscess may form around the implant and your jawbone may atrophy, causing the post to loosen.
- Facial trauma, which can loosen, damage or completely knock out an implant.
- Poor healing or insufficient bone, resulting in a weak or inconsistent connection between the jawbone, post and socket.
- Changing bite strength, resulting in excessive force wearing down the implant.
- Jawbone loss, which can be brought on by untreated periodontal disease, infection, age-related changes or osteoporosis.
- Consuming hard foods, which can chip or loosen the implant.
- Bruxism, or excessive teeth grinding placing too much force on the implant.
In these instances, the following problems can signal a loose dental implant:
- You can’t chew as well or experience pain when you do
- Inflamed, red, swollen or tender gums
- Gum recession
- The implant moves around in your mouth
- You feel pain outside of eating or chewing
What You Should Do
Never ignore a loose dental implant, otherwise you risk having the body absorb the post or experiencing additional jawbone or tooth loss. Instead, make a dentist appointment as soon as possible. In the meantime, limit eating anything hard, chewy or crunchy.
Treatment may involve:
- Tightening and reattaching the crown. This procedure may involve cementing the existing crown or a new one to the abutment, or screwing it in place. A new screw may also be needed, based on the attachment method and if the crown came off.
- Fully replacing the implant. This procedure is more complicated. Assuming the implant never fully integrated with the existing jawbone, the post will be removed.
- A new implant. Down the road, you have the option to try implants again. This time, your dentist may recommend having a jawbone graft first or may wait longer for the post to stabilize before adding a crown.
To schedule an appointment, contact our Shelton office today.