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What are the causes of dental implant failure?

Dental implants are the ideal way for adult men and women to replace missing, broken, damaged or decayed teeth in order to perfect their smile. But it is important for patients to know that this treatment is not guaranteed. Implant failure is a real possibility for all potential implant patients, even those who are considered ideal candidates. Before undergoing treatment, learn the causes of implant failure and what you can do to increase your chances for implant success.

Studies have shown that implant failure risk is about 5% for lower jaw implants and 10% for upper jaw implants. In addition, patients that receive multiple implants may experience success with some and failure with others. There is no way to determine the exact causes of dental implant failure, however research has shown that certain factors do lead to a higher probability of implant failure.

Implant type. Certified dental implants are made of pure titanium alloy, which has proven to successfully fuse with bone in order to create a stable support for dental prosthetics. If a certified implant is placed, patients should experience success. However, non-certified implants have been known to be used—implants that are not pure titanium alloy. If this is the case, the patient may experience implant rejection (as opposed to failure) meaning the bone of the jaw does not successfully fuse with the implant. Be sure your dentist uses only certified dental implants before undergoing treatment.

Bacterial contamination. Some dentist suggest that implant failure can be due to bacteria present in the jawbone. If present, bacteria can lead to infection, which does not allow the implant to heal correctly.

Smoking. Smoking has also been linked with implant failure because of its negative effects on the healing process. Smoking can inhibit blood flow to the gums and teeth, which can slow the healing process significantly. If a patient does not give the implant the optimum opportunity to heal, they may experience implant failure.

Implant aftercare. Implant failure can also be due to lack of proper aftercare. Implant success depends not only on the skill and cleanliness of the dentist performing the treatment, but also on your willingness to follow meticulous aftercare instructions. Clear and specific instructions will be provided for proper aftercare—following all directions will significantly increase your chances for implant success.

Consult with your dentist prior to treatment in order to learn how you can increase your chances for successful dental implantation.