Dental implants have become one of the most successful procedures in modern dentistry with reported success rates typically published within a range of 88.3% and 99%. “Implant failure” is a general diagnostic term relating to one of several types of complications.
Factors that are related to implant failure can also be categorized into patient-related (systemic health, smoking, bone quality and quantity, oral hygiene), implant characteristics (dimensions, coating, design), implant location and clinician experience.
While dental implants are not subject to decay, they can fail due to loss of bone support. How might this happen?
Osseointegration describes the formation a connection between a person’s bone and an implant. This process takes several months after the implant is placed. Failure of an implant is often attributed to the failure of the jawbone to fuse together properly with the implant. Before an implant can integrate properly into a jawbone, there must be a healthy volume and density of bone present.
Another common reason for late implant failure is related to traumatic occlusion or occlusal overload. This can be particularly true in patients with bruxism or in patients where implant bridgework replaces quadrants or full arches of missing teeth.
Several factors can lead to implant failure including:
- Insufficient bone density or volume
- Incorrect positioning
- Peri-Implantitis (Infection)
- Damage to surrounding tissues
- External force/sudden impact
- Fractured implants
- Nerve & Tissue Damage
Other Risks & Causes of Failure
Foreign body rejection: it is possible that a patient’s body will reject the dental implant. In this case, the patient’s body see the dental implant as a foreign object that does not belong and pushes it out.
Failure of the implant itself – Even though they are made of metal (usually titanium), it is possible for the post to bend or even break. This much less common than it was years ago thanks to advances in implant design and materials, but it is still possible. This could be a sudden impact like a blow to the face or excessive pressure over a period of time like grinding teeth or an unbalanced crown.
When an implant fails, a tailor made treatment plan should be provided to each patient according to all relevant variables. Patients should be informed regarding all possible treatment modalities after implant failure and give their consent to the most appropriate treatment option for them.