8 Common short and long-term Dental Implant Problems You Really Need To Know

Mar 10, 2023
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Dental implants are the gold standard for missing tooth replacement. Yet, despite a success rate of 95%, some restorations can and do fail. This article discusses 8 of the most common short and long-term dental implant problems you must know.

Dental implants are the gold standard for missing tooth replacement and have been for many years. Yet, despite a success rate of 95%, some restorations can and do fail – either shortly after the procedure or months/years later.

With this in mind, let’s talk about eight of the most common short and long-term dental implant problems you must know.

So let’s dive in:

Starting with the short-term

Firstly, infection issues

Although the mouth contains somewhere between 500 – 650 different species of bacteria, the risk of infection is low when a dentist performs implant surgery properly and under sterile conditions. Patients are sometimes prescribed antibiotics before surgery to further limit the possibility of infection.

That said, an implant is at its most vulnerable when first attached, so any bacterial build-up or food debris can be problematic for the surrounding tissues, causing the implant to fail.

If you show signs of a bad taste emanating from the implant area, notice red or swollen gums, or have constant bad breath, then chances are you have an infection. In this case, talk to your implant dentist immediately so they can deal with the problem early before it causes your implant to fail.

Poor implant placement

When opting for dental implants, finding a reputable implant surgeon is crucial. So many dentists offer cheap tooth implants and lack the experience to ensure your restoration remains where it should.

On the contrary, an experienced implantologist has the skills and knowledge to ensure that dental implant placement (the part where the titanium post is anchored into the bone) is at precisely the right angle and depth to facilitate a successful outcome.

Any implant not placed in the correct position is vulnerable to movement. As a result, it may be just a matter of time before complications develop.

At Chesterfield Dentistry, Dr Akinwande is a highly experienced implant dentist and has placed hundreds of implants while ensuring the best functionality and aesthetics are met. If you opt for cheap implants with an unproven dentist, you may get much more than you bargained for.

Not following your dentist’s instructions

One of the most common dental implant problems occurs when patients fail to follow advice after implant surgery. Your dentist should give you all the necessary guidance to ensure implants have the best chance of survival and include factors like:

  • Adhering to dietary restrictions
  • Staying away from physical activity
  • Ensuring oral cleanliness in and around the implant area
  • Smoking or drinking alcohol (particularly before the implant has fully stabilized)

The truth is that failing to adhere to any of the above impacts the success of your dental implant, so use the advice given, stick to any aftercare instructions, and you won’t go far wrong.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Disclosing any pre-existing medical conditions during the initial consultation is essential. If not, you run a greater risk of implant failure.


Because certain diseases or ailments will impact the success or failure of an implant. Conditions like uncontrolled diabetes will affect the all-important bone fusion (osseointegration) process.

Other conditions, like an irradiated jaw after a cancer diagnosis, may make implant placement difficult, while persistent gum disease is also likely to be problematic for dental implants.

The good news is that if you disclose your condition during the consultation, there may be a workaround.

For example, if diabetes is regulated correctly, the bone tissue growth rate may return to normal. Those who have previously experienced head, neck, and jaw radiation are not always contraindicated, and periodontal (gum disease) can be treated before implant placement.

So now we know what common dental problems occur in the short term, what about the long term?

Long-term complications include:

Poor oral hygiene

Dental implants are not a ‘set and forget’ restoration. While they can last for many years, they require some care and attention, particularly around good oral hygiene.

It’s easy to think that because dental implants have been in the mouth for some years, they no longer require as much care and attention. Even though tooth implants aren’t prone to the same issues as natural teeth, they can become loose if the soft tissues around the implant (and eventually, the supporting bone) become damaged.

This can happen at any time and is known as peri-implantitis. It isn’t uncommon for peri-implantitis to cause implant failure 14 years after initial placement.

Therefore, if you want to look after your tooth implants long-term, commitment to a lifetime of good oral care is essential.

Improper force

Applying too much or improper force is another common reason dental implants fail. A tooth implant is designed to be super-strong, and once fully integrated into the jaw, it can last a lifetime. However, only if you use it like a regular tooth for biting and chewing food.

If you use your implant restoration to open beer bottles, break ice cubes or chew fingernails, then you run the risk of applying excessive force. This can have a detrimental effect on both the restoration crown and the implant itself.

Excess force

Another reason for dental implant problems in the long term is bruxism. Otherwise known as teeth grinding, sleep-related bruxism is a common condition that affects 8-10% of American adults. To see how bad this condition is, we need to look at what happens to dental implants when we chew vs when we grind our teeth.

We usually apply 68-70 lbs of pressure per square inch when we chew food. When we consciously grind teeth, that figure rises to around 104 lbs of pressure. However, when we subconsciously grind our teeth during sleep, studies show that the impact rises to around 250 pounds of force.  

In essence, a bruxer applies over three times as much force as a tooth or implant is designed to take. And when you realize that bruxers grind teeth multiple times a night, it’s easy to see how damaging this condition is.

For this reason, most bruxism sufferers look to cure the problem before they get dental implants, or they’re fitted with a night guard to protect the teeth and implant during sleep.

Foreign body rejection

The final reason for longer-term dental implant problems is when a person’s body rejects it. Admittedly, this is a far less common phenomenon and is, on the whole, pretty rare, but it can happen, particularly with cheap implants, which may contain a whole host of metals.

Rejection may happen immediately or over time, and signs include loss of taste, gum swelling and a tingling sensation stemming from the implant site.

The best way to ensure your body doesn’t reject an implant is to choose a dentist that uses only top-branded implants like Nobel BioCare, Straumann or Dentsply Sirona. If you don’t know, ask your dentist before you commit.

So there you have it, eight common reasons why dental implant problems occur in a short and long-term scenario.

Are you considering dental implants to replace missing teeth? Talk to Dr Akinwande at Chesterfield Dentistry. She will take the time to talk you through the process so you can make a fully informed decision.

Call 314 -936-3621 or book your no-obligation consultation online today.