Dental Implant Complications After Placement

Surgical complication with dental implants are more likely to occur during surgery.  However, they can and do occur after surgery.  Some complications exhibited after surgical placement of a dental implant can be related to the surgical procedure, while others can are completely unrelated.  In this discussion we will focus on the less common complications that can occur after surgery has been completed.

As with any surgical procedure, one can always expect to have some pain and swelling.  In this article we will discuss unexpected complications.  These include but are not limited to loosening , fracture, rejection of an implant, and the implant completely falling out.

After a dental implant is placed in the jaw bone, the implant needs to be immobilized for weeks to sometimes months after surgery.  This allows the implant to integrate fully with the surrounding alveolar bone.  Any movement of the implant during the healing stage will usually lead to loss of the implant. Initially the patient will notice that the implant becomes loose.  This eventually will lead to the implant completely falling out of the socket. Some dentists prefer to leave the implant under the gum tissue until healed to reduce the risk of the implant falling out.

If this occurs, it is important for the practitioner to assess why the implant did not integrate.  If the implant becomes loose but does not fall out it should be taken out and the site should be grafted with bone.  After the newly placed bone integrates, usually a minimum of six weeks, the placement of an implant can be repeated.  It is important that  the patient does not put pressure on the area until full integration occurs.

Another potential problem that can be encountered after an implant fully integrates is the fracture of the fixture. Even though implants are made out of titanium and are very strong, under extreme occlusal (biting) forces as exhibited during clenching or grinding of teeth, the implant can break.  After placement and restoration of an implant a protective mouthguard should be fabricated for the patient to protect the implant and restoration.  If an implant fractures, it should be completely removed and the placement process repeated.

In some cases a newly placed dental implant can be rejected by the body.  An implant is a foreign substance that is placed in and interacts with the body.   Post-surgical symptoms of severe pain, localized redness, and  swelling are usually an indication of a foreign body reaction.  This will ultimately lead to loss of the implant.  There is no definitive answer as to why the foreign body reaction occurs in some patients but not others.  This is an autoimmune reaction elicited by the body due to a foreign substance being implanted.  If you have a foreign body reaction there is no guarantee that future placement will be successful. If you have any  food or metal sensitivities, a skin test should be completed before any surgery is attempted. This consists of taping of an implant part onto the skin for 12 to 24 hours.  Any signs of a reaction, redness or swelling of the skin can be a sign that your body most likely will reject the implant.    Speak to your surgeon to determine what options you have.

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