Long term dental implant complications

You had a dental implant placed and restored.  You think everything is great, you can chew again without any concerns.  One day during a dental checkup your dentist tells you that your implant has a problem.  When you had the implant done you assumed that the implant will be in your mouth forever.  So what went wrong?

When a dental implant is presented to you as a treatment option very little time is spent discussing potential risks.  Usually you hear about the benefits, step by step process of placement and restoration,  and the cost of implants.  You may be given a consent form that discusses the risks but these are usually not taken seriously. To you, the consumer, an implant sounds like an indestructible entity that you will never have concerns about.  That is far from the truth.

One of the most common complications that I encounter in my practice is peri-implantitis.  This condition refers to loss of bone secondary to inflammation or swelling around the dental implant.  Just like your natural teeth can suffer from periodontal disease,  dental implants can do the same.  Most common cause of inflammation around a dental implant is collection of plaque secondary to poor oral hygiene.  Many patients think that since a dental implant is made out of metal or porcelain it does not have to be cleaned.  That is far from the truth.  Another cause of localized inflammation can be due to inability to get to the surfaces that need to be cleaned. If you have a difficult time accessing  the implant to keep it clean,  your dentist will usually catch that during a check-up and refer you to a periodontist for reduction of the tissue so that you will be able to keep the surrounding area clean.


Anything foreign that is placed in the mouth whether it be an implant, crown, or filling should be maintained with more diligence. Any foreign restoration is more likely to fail as compared to your natural teeth.  It is true that implants will not get decay however, if you have had issues with gum disease in the past you should focus on improving your oral hygiene efforts to keep your implants healthy.

If you do encounter any sort of complication the key to a positive resolution is early detection.  If the inflammatory process is in its early stages and you have not lost too much bone, usually something can be done to improve the prognosis of thee implant.  If you do not see your dentist on a regular basis and the condition goes unchecked you may lose your implant in the future. This is why regular dental visits are so important.

Please share any questions or comments you may have.



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