Dental Implant Fell Out
Bolstered by decades of clinical research, development, and implementation, dental implants have high long-term success rates and are amongst the most reliable tooth restoration options available. Despite their reliability, it is possible for a dental implant to fail but rarely results in an implant falling out. It is even more unlikely if the dental implant was placed by a highly experienced and skilled oral surgeon.
If properly placed, a dental implant should match the patient’s natural teeth structure and mouth. To make sure an implant remains in place for life, dental practitioners will diligently check the setting to ensure an ideal fit. Even with extensive use, a dental implant is designed to be permanent, durable, and only need minimum maintenance. Usually when an implant falls out, it is attributed to an error with its placement or an underlying issue. However, in the off chance an implant falls out, the issue can be promptly resolved.
With the risk of an implant falling out being so rare, understanding what is really occurring when a patient informs their dentist their implant fell out is important. Continue reading to learn more about what causes implant failure, how to prevent it from happening, and what to do to correct the issue.
What Causes a Dental Implant to Fail?
Some of the typical reasons a dental implant could fail include:
- Lack of sufficient jawbone to support the implant
- A weak immune system
- Excessive stress on the implant during post-surgery healing
- Biological rejection of the device
Could the Abutment Cause the Issue?
There are three components that comprise a dental implant:
- Implant: the titanium post or rod that is embedded in the jawbone; acts as replacement tooth roots.
- Abutment: attaches to the implant; serves as connector between the implant and restorative crown.
- Crown: the prosthetic replacement tooth that mounts on the abutment.
When a patient claims their dental implant has fallen out, more often than not, it is because the abutment, rather than the implant, has become dislodged. To correct the issue, an oral surgeon often can replace the abutment and reattach the crown.
Dental Implant Failure Can Happen…Rarely
While titanium implant posts can become loose, it is rare that one would completely fall out of the patient’s jawbone. If implant failure occurs, it is often attributed to complications during post-surgery recovery where the jawbone and implant fuse together (known as osseointegration). This could be due to:
- Lack of jawbone density – in some cases, this can be addressed with a bone grafting procedure prior to implant surgery.
- A post-surgery bacterial infection developing in the gum tissue surrounding the implant.
- Underlying health conditions that inhibit proper osseointegration.
- Consuming excessive alcohol, smoking, or putting excessive pressure on the implant during recovery.
Signs and Symptoms to Monitor
Prior to falling out, a dental implant will become loose. Often, the signs of a loose implant can be tied to various causes or symptoms which if detected early, can help avoid the implant from falling out. Because of this, patients should keep an eye out for any of the following signs after placing a dental implant:
- Pain the lingers or worsens in the days following implant surgery
- Visible loss of jawbone
- Bleeding around the implant when touched
- Discoloration around the implant
If any of these signs persist, it is recommended that the patient promptly contact their dentist so that the implant can be kept securely in place.
Caring for Dental Implants
The replacement dental crown is attached to a metal piece that lies below the gumline. Ideally, the metal will fuse with the jawbone to keep it securely anchored in place. Patients with healthy bone tissue have a higher likelihood of implant surgery being successful and the implants remaining securely attached in the mouth.
As people age, they tend to lose bone mass. Because of this, the bones of elderly patients may not be sufficiently strong to support dental implants. This could jeopardize the chances of success or eliminate the patient altogether from candidacy for the procedure. Often, elderly patients with weaker bones will be given vitamin supplements or undergo additional treatments, like bone grafts, to bolster their chances of success.
Beyond having strong bones, there are other steps that can be practiced that help ensure dental implants are properly cared for. For example, stick or hard foods should be avoided as they could damage the implants. Chewing hard foods can place excessive pressure on an implant that could jeopardize its success. Sticky foods can be problematic because food particles can attach to the implant making them difficult to remove. Other foods like popcorn, seeds, and nuts can be problematic because they can get lodged between the teeth and cause irritation to the implants. Since hard and sticky foods can lead to an implant moving or shifting, it is advised for patients to avoid them.
Luckily, dental implants can be cleaned and cared for just like natural teeth. This means flossing the teeth daily, brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and visiting the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings one to two times each year. With proper oral hygiene, the risk of periodontal disease and tooth decay are reduced, and the odds of the implants remaining in place are bolstered. If periodontal disease develops, the gum tissue weakens and may be unable to support teeth or implants. Should this occur, professional cleanings may be recommended along with modifications to the patient’s oral hygiene routine.
How to Fix a Dental Implant That Fell Out
In the rare case where a dental implant comes loose or falls out completely, patients should immediately contact their dentist to correct the issue. Frequently, implants can be re-inserted in these cases. If only the crown is affected, it can often be screwed back down. Should the abutment be the culprit, the component can be replaced.
If the implant post moves under the gums, it could be attributed to gum disease or jawbone loss. If caught early, antibiotics and improved oral hygiene can help combat the disease. Stopping or reversing periodontal disease in its earliest stages, can allow the implant to be re-inserted.