Dental implants are fantastic tools your dentist may use to fix some dental conditions; that having been said, there are both early and late dental implant problems that can develop. Broadly speaking, early dental implant problems are those that come along during or shortly after the process of having the implant installed, while late dental implant problems may come along years or decades later. We want to emphasize that these problems are relatively uncommon—with regular care and cleaning, most dental implants provide a lifetime of service without complications or issues.
When to Call Your Dentist
What complications may develop, and what early and late dental implant problems should you be aware of? That depends on your individual oral health and the implant installed, but broadly there are some warning signs that indicate something may be amiss with your oral implant or other prostheses. If you experience any of the following with your oral implant, alert your dentist as quickly as possible:
- difficulty chewing
- gum inflammation
- gum recession
- increased swelling
- loosening of an implant or a replaced tooth
- severe pain or discomfort
Each of these symptoms or any combination thereof may indicate a problem that has started with your dental implant. What sort of problem? Well, here are some of the most common.
Common Early Dental Implant Problems
- Infection at the implant site is the most common early dental implant problem. An infection may develop while the implant is being installed or shortly thereafter. While rare, they may develop in any patient, although risk factors such as autoimmune disease, smoking, or poor oral hygiene increase the odds of an infection occurring.
- Implant micro-movements occur as the name suggests when implants lose the stability they need to stay in the desired position. This is especially common with a procedure called an immediate tooth replacement. While most implants these days are installed with a different procedure, sometimes a dentist or dental surgeon may elect to use an immediate tooth replacement to speed the process along.
- Insufficient bone support is what it sounds like—there’s not enough bone to support an implant. Most of the time x-rays reveal this long before surgery, but sometimes mistakes are made.
- An allergic reaction to the materials involved in the implant may lead to problems. Symptoms of an allergic response to an implant include swelling, loss of taste or sensation, or a tingling feeling.
- Poor patient care is often the culprit behind early dental implant problems. Your dentist or oral surgeon will tell you how to best care for the implant until the site heals, and you should follow their instructions to the letter.
Late Dental Implant Problems
Long-term complications may not develop until years and years later. While even less common than early dental implant problems, late dental implant problems may include:
- Nerve or tissue damage, generally as the result of the dentist or oral surgeon unintentionally placing the implant too close to an existing nerve. Symptoms may include numbness or tingling in the teeth, gums, lips, or the rest of the face.
- Foreign body rejection is very uncommon. This occurs when the body’s immune system rejects the implant. Signs and symptoms include pain at the implant site, swelling, fever, and chills.
Protrusion into the sinus cavity is rare but may occur with some implants in the upper jaw.