Implant dentistry is an intricate and comprehensive process that involves several stages, which may include multiple surgeries. As with all types of surgery, there are risks involved during both the procedure and recovery period. While most dental implants risks are minor, it is important to consider them before opting for surgery. Below is an overview of some of the most common risks associated with dental implants.
What You Should Know about Implant Dentistry
Dental implant surgery can offer a number of functional and aesthetic benefits to patients who have severely damaged or missing teeth. These benefits, however, do not come without risk. Some of the dental implants risks that your dentist may discuss with you prior to surgery include:
One of the major risks of dental implant surgery is that the implants will not fuse correctly with the bone. Osseointegration, the process in which the titanium root fuses with the jaw, is a vital part of receiving dental implants. If, for some reason, this step does not occur the implants will not function properly and can be uncomfortable, become loose, or fall out completely. To reduce this risk, your dentist will evaluate the density of the jaw bone to ensure that it is capable of withstanding surgery. In the event that integration does fail, the implant can be removed and surgery can be attempted again once the area has healed.
Infection at Implant Site
Infection of the gums and surrounding tissue is another dental implants risk. If the infection becomes severe enough it can lead to dental implant failure. The only way to prevent infection at the implant site is to practice good oral hygiene habits, and follow post-operative instructions carefully.
Nerve and Tissue Damage
In extremely rare cases, placement of dental implants can lead to damage of blood vessels or nerves. This can lead to pain, swelling, numbness, and a tingling sensation in the teeth, lips, gums, or chin. While this is uncommon, choosing a qualified dentist to perform your dental implant surgery will help ensure that you do not experience this side effect.
In instances where implants are being placed in the back, upper jaw, they can affect the sinus cavities. This can be corrected, however, with sinus augmentation surgery.
Who is at Risk?
While nearly 95 percent of dental implant procedures are successful, there are some factors that place individuals at particular risk for the complications mentioned above. For example, individuals who smoke or drink are at an increased risk of infection both during and after the procedure. In addition, both of these habits can adversely affect healing time, which can delay the placement of synthetic restorations.
Patients with poor immune systems should watch carefully for signs of infection following dental implant surgery. It is important to follow post-operative instructions in order to decrease the chances of these dental implants risks.
Immediate Side Effects
In addition to long-term dental implants risks, there are some side effects that patients may experience immediately following surgery. These risks include:
- Swelling. Because dental implant surgery is an invasive procedure, swelling of the gums and possibly the cheeks is possible. This typically subsides in 2-3 days.
- Pain. Patients may experience mild to moderate pain following the implant procedure. Your dentist can prescribe a pain killer for use in the initial days after treatment. Any residual pain can be treated with over the counter medicines.
Some of the most recognized dental implant benefits are those that help the patient feel comfortable in their daily life.
- Natural: Dental implants provide a strong root for the placement of restorations which look, feel, and function just like regular teeth. These days, most restorations are made of porcelain, which mimic the appearance of natural teeth.
- Support Facial Integrity: By supporting the jawbone, implants encourage long-term facial integrity and prevent a “caved-in” appearance. Consequently, patients are able to preserve a youthful appearance.
- Improved Speech: Patients who are missing teeth often have difficulty speaking clearly. Dental implants benefit these patients, and give them the confidence to carry on any conversation.
- Decreased Sensitivity: Patients who receive dental implants are often more comfortable on a daily basis. They experience less tooth and gum sensitivity, especially while eating and drinking.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view dental implant before and after photos.
Photo credit: Dr. Dianna Lenick
- Prevent Bone Loss: Because titanium implant posts are integrated into the jaw, they also help prevent bone loss and gum recession (because the pressure of chewing stimulates the underlying bone and prevents it from deteriorating due to disuse).
- Save Teeth: As opposed to crowns and bridges, implants do not require surrounding teeth to be filed down to prepare for the restoration. Patients can save any natural teeth that they have left.
- Prevent TMJ: Replacing missing teeth prevents the shifting of the teeth or the jaw. This successfully prevents painful jaw disorders, such as TMJ.
- Long-lasting: Implants are strong and durable and in most cases never have to be replaced. While restorations may become worn down after 10 to 15 years, they can be replaced without surgery.
Find an Implant Dentist
Before receiving dental implants it is important to meet with your dentist to determine if you are a suitable candidate for the procedure. Certain factors may make you more susceptible to dental implant risks. Find an implant dentist in your area to schedule a consultation.