And Everything else you wanted to know about Dental Implants including the good, the bad and the ugly

Dentists – you can’t live with them, and you just can’t live without them.

We’re willing to bet though; you are reading this article because you are researching dental implants and wondering if they are right for you. You’ve come to the right place, in this article we cover everything about dental implants, which includes why dental implants fail.

Dental implants have gained in popularity in the past few years for a number of reasons, but we’re willing to bet you might be shocked to know that dental implants have been around for over a thousand years, and there is a very specific reason for that.

So, keep reading to find out why dental implants fail, amongst other awesome facts and reasons why dental implants are a fabulous choice.

Why are dental implants so popular?

Dental implants are the next best thing to real teeth. They are specifically designed to look, feel and function like your natural teeth, which at the end of the day gives you confidence in your smile.

Let’s be honest for a second here, when it comes to first impressions, a big smile and eye contact are essential in making that first impression. Whether we like it or not, we want to see a gorgeous set of teeth smiling back at us.

From the “funny because it’s true files” -  why dentistry is so important.

Besides a dashing smile, we can look to market trends to figure out why dental implants are so popular. Market trends in dentistry not only tell us where the dental industry is today, but what the future holds as well. And while that may not seem like something worth caring about unless you work in the dental industry, these trends can give a clear picture of which procedures and areas of dentistry are becoming popular with the average person walking into the dentist’s office.

In this case, recent analysis suggests that the dental implant market will be valued at more than $7.8 billion by the year 2024.

And that friends, is some serious cash.

Let’s take a look at some rather interesting facts about dental implants, before we get to the really good stuff.

5 facts about dental implants you need to know

You might think going to the dentist or a cosmetic dentist is a relatively modern phenomenon, but did you know that people have been using toothpaste since about 500 B.C.? Back then, the ancient Greeks would use a mixture that contained iron rust and coral powder to clean their teeth. Toothbrushes, meanwhile, were bunches of tree twigs that people would chew on.

Luckily, dental care has advanced since then, and we’ve now got many different tools at our disposal to help us take care of our teeth. Here are some more interesting facts about dental implants:

  • Ancient dental implants have been traced back to around 600 AD, when tooth-like pieces of shell were hammered into the jaw of a Mayan woman.
  • Dental implants are the only dental restoration option that preserves natural bone, actually helping to stimulate bone growth.
  • In 1951, a small group of dentists who were successfully placing dental implants formed the AAID – American Academy of Implant Dentistry – to share their knowledge on the practice of implantology. AAID is the first professional organization in the world dedicated to advancing implant dentistry.
  • In 1952, Swedish orthopedic surgeon P.I. Branemark discovered that titanium naturally fuses with bone, eventually switching his research focus to the mouth from the knee and hip.
  • 3 million people in the United States have implants, a number that is growing by 500,000 annually.

Dental implant failure, what you need to know

First, let’s just recap what a dental implant exactly is. A dental implant is a metal post that is surgically attached to the jaw bone to support an artificial tooth. Once the implant is in place, a restorative dentist or oral surgeon mounts a replacement tooth to the metal post or implant as it were.

A dental implant has three parts:

  • A titanium screw (called an implant) embedded into the jawbone, replacing the original root
  • A porcelain crown
  • A connector that joins the two pieces (called an abutment)

Unlike dentures, which can be removed, a dental implant is permanent. The titanium screw fuses to the bone, making implants more durable than other options -- one of the reasons more than 3 million Americans have opted for these implants and more than 500,000 get the procedure each year, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

The good news is dental implants have a high success rate, but some people do experience dental implant failure. In fact, it is estimated that about 5 to 10 percent of dental implants fail, and the amount of time will vary. In most cases however, dental implants fail either shortly after the procedure or month or years later.

Let’s break this all down and look at the factors that impact the implant process.

What are some of the causes of dental implant failure?

1. Gum disease

Healthy gums are a criteria for dental implant surgery, and you can’t have this procedure with active gum disease.

2. Smoking

Smoking can also cause dental implant failure because it restricts blood flow to the gums, slowing the healing process. Multiple research studies show that smokers can have a dental implant failure rate up to 20 percent.

3. Insufficient jaw bone

A successful procedure is also dependent on sufficient bone to support the implant. Without enough healthy bone, the surgeon cannot surgically place the implant into your jaw.

4. Medical conditions

Dental implant failure is a possibility if you’re diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, which causes the body to heal at a slower pace. Slow healing can prevent osseointegration, where the implant fuses or integrates with your jaw bone.

In 2016, McGill University researchers found that heartburn medications may reduce new bone growth, thus affecting how an implant fuses with the jaw bone. Also in 2016, researchers at the University at Buffalo reported similar results among people taking antidepressant medication.

5. Poor dental maintenance

The ability to practice good oral hygiene after a dental implant also has an impact on the success rate. You’re not an appropriate candidate for a dental implant if you have limitations that affect your range of motion or interfere with the ability to thoroughly clean your teeth.

6. An inexperienced surgeon

Not all surgeons are created equal, and there’s a chance of dental implant failure if you have an inexperienced surgeon. Your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon, but you can also select your own.

Common sense dictates that we choose a surgeon with many years of experience. Have them go over the process and recovery plan.

Dr. Nina King, gives you a list of questions you need to ask your dentist to help with the overall process, and well, just to make you feel better about dental implants:

Here are some questions you can ask your dental team to help with the overall process:

  • How many years of experience does the surgeon have?
  • How many dental implant procedures does the surgeon complete a year?
  • What is the surgeon’s success rate? What do they attribute that to?
  • Planning before a dental implant procedure
  • Proper planning by a surgeon entails the doctor completing a thorough examination of your mouth to assess the health of your gums and jaw bone.

Dr. Nina King continues:

“Planning also involves an understanding of your medical history. This includes any medical conditions you have, as well as any medications you take. When there’s a lack of understanding or proper planning, a surgeon may proceed with a dental implant even when the person isn’t the right candidate for one.”

At the end of the day you want to look for the most experienced surgeon, therefore talking with friends or family who’ve had a dental implant before is a great course of action. Who better to ask for recommendations then family or friends right?

Possible short-term complications of dental implants

Continuing on, let’s go over some early dental implant failure and problems that might arise under certain conditions. Just to be clear, usually early dental failure occurs within the first three to four months of the procedure.

One thing you must keep in mind when it comes to having this procedure is there will be some degree of pain or discomfort after the surgery. However, you can manage this with pain medication prescribed by your dental surgeon. Regardless, it is best to speak with your surgeon if the pain doesn’t improve after five to seven days. It takes between three and six months to completely heal.

Even though the pain and swelling are common after surgery, you must keep an eye out for complications that may develop, such as:

An infection at the implant site

An infection can develop during or after surgery. Risk factors for an infection include having an autoimmune disease, smoking, and bad oral hygiene.

Implant micro-movements

Micro-movements of the implant can occur when a dental implant lacks stability, sometimes after an immediate tooth replacement.

Insufficient bone support

Early stage failure can also happen when there isn’t sufficient bone to support a dental implant, yet a surgeon completes the procedure anyway. Without adequate bone, the implant can’t fuse with the jaw.

Remember, it is super important to make sure your dentist has the experience necessary to carry out this procedure.

Allergic reaction

It is possible to develop a reaction if you’re allergic to titanium alloy, a metal in some dental implants. Symptoms of an allergy include swelling, loss of taste, and perhaps a tingling sensation. Therefore, it is super important that you mention a titanium allergy because you will need an implant that contains different material – yes, this is an option!

Not following the doctor’s instructions

Remember your activities and habits because this may impact the healing the process. Post-surgery instructions must be followed, this is the same across the board with any type of surgery and your mouth is no different. You may be instructed to eat soft foods until the implant site heals, practice good oral hygiene, and avoid hard candy.

Possible long-term complications of a dental implant

When it comes to long-term complications, there are a few issues that may arise that are not necessarily related to bad post-op care. Take special care with the following:

  • The bodies rejection to foreign objects doesn’t happen often in the medical world, but it can happen. Our bodies are an amazing thing, and believe it or not, we have the built-in ability to heal quite quickly. However, sometimes our bodies reject foreign objects because it thinks it is helping us. Signs of rejection include increased pain at the implant site, swelling, fever, and chills. Make sure you call your doctor immediately to get checked.
  • Again, very rare, a dental implant placed in the upper jaw may protrude into the sinus cavity.
  • Nerve damage may occur when a dentist places an implant too close to a nerve. Symptoms would include numbness or tingling in the tongue, lips, gums, or face.

The best advice and a good way to minimize any likelihood of long-term problems is to practice good dental hygiene and keep your mouth and gums healthy. Brush your teeth and floss at least twice a day, remember to rinse your mouth with mouthwash and see your dentist for routine check-ups.

Answering a few frequently asked question

Considering we’ve informed you about why dental implants fail, let’s go through some interesting facts and frequently asked question.

What is the failure rate of dental implants?

Despite the information we’ve provided about the failures of this popular dental procedure, you’ll be happy to know that dental implants have a high success rate. Only about 5 to 10 percent of dental implants fail.

Can a failed dental implant be replaced?

The short answer to this is possibly yes. Yes, replacement with another implant is an option, but survival rates will vary. Reports indicate the survival range of 69% to 91%.

How long does it take to get a dental implant?

There are several factors that will determine the length of time needed for an implant procedure.

  • Your dental health
  • The number of teeth involved

The specific teeth being replaced

  • If there will be a tooth extracted prior to implant placement

Okay, so we’ve finally made it to the good stuff! This is the part you’ve been waiting for. Let’s look at the incredible benefits associated with dental implants. Once you understand the pros of dental implants, you will quickly understand why they are so popular, and becoming a huge trend across the globe.

The implant is typically placed in two appointments: An oral surgeon, periodontist, or general dentist inserts it, generally while you're under local anesthetic. You wear a temporary partial denture or retainer until the gums heal, which often takes a few months. Then the dentist attaches a porcelain or gold crown. Each implant can take as little as 30 minutes to place.

Compared with bridgework -- which often needs to be replaced after 10 years -- dental implants don't decay. Their placement doesn't interfere with healthy teeth and, with the right care, most will last a lifetime.

Dental Implants – Why it’s the right choice

There was a time when dentists used to replace missing teeth with bridges or dentures, but today dental implants are often a better option. What's more, they "look just as good as natural teeth," says Manoel Macedo, DDS, PhD, a dentist and assistant professor of restorative dentistry at Oregon Health & Science University.

Here are the major benefits of choosing dental implants

  • An overall improved appearance – Implants provide a natural look and comfortable fit. Dental implants are designed to look, feel, and function like your natural teeth. In addition, implants give patients the confidence to smile, eat, and engage in social activities without worrying about how they look or if their dentures will fall out.
  • Improved speech – Dentures sometimes just don’t fit and this can cause the teeth to slip within the mouth. This in turn causes you to mumble and slur your words. Dental implants allow you to speak without the worry that your teeth might slip.
  • Easier to eat or chew - Sliding dentures can make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain.
  • Implants are durable – Implants are very durable and can last for many years. With good dental care, implants can last a lifetime.
  • Overall improved comfort – Because the implant literally becomes a part of you, this eliminates any and all discomfort from removing dentures.
  • Confidence and Improved self-esteem - Dental implants can give you back your smile and help you feel better about yourself.
  • Improved oral health - Implants don't require reducing other teeth, as a tooth-supported bridge does. Because nearby teeth are not altered to support the implant, more of your own teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health. Individual implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.
  • Improved facial and bone features - Dental implants preserve natural tooth tissue by avoiding the need to cut down adjacent teeth for conventional bridgework. They also will preserve bone and significantly reduce bone resorption and deterioration that results in loss of jawbone height. Dental implants also help restore your jawbone structure because they reduce the load on the remaining oral structures/teeth and preserve natural tooth tissue and reduce bone resorption and deterioration that results in loss of jawbone height.

Can anyone get a dental implant?

In most cases, anyone healthy enough to undergo a routine dental extraction or oral surgery can be considered for a dental implant. Patients should have healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant. They also must be committed to good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Heavy smokers, people suffering from uncontrolled chronic disorders -- such as diabetes or heart disease -- or patients who have had radiation therapy to the head/neck area need to be evaluated on an individual basis. If you are considering implants, talk to your dentist to see if they are right for you.

Dental implants require the same care as real teeth, including brushing, flossing, rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash, and regular dental check-ups. When it comes to after the procedure, most people who have received dental implants say that there is very little discomfort involved. Local anesthesia can be used during the procedure, and most patients report that implants involve less pain than a tooth extraction.

Now that you have all the facts about dental implants, you can make an informed choice.