Your complete guide to dental implant complications made super easy for you!
Dental implant complications, yes, it’s time to go deep into a new chapter in the world of dental implants. This is the chapter created for you focusing on all the dental implant complications. With us, you’re in good hands. However, it’s important for you to know the possible complications that may come with dental implants. These won’t probably happen to you but it’s important for you to be aware of the possibility and the signs.
There are two main categories when it comes to dental implant complications. The first ones are the short-term complications: they usually happen right away or within the first four to six months after the procedure. They are usually connected to the healing of the implants and the health habits or situations of the patient. The second one is usually long-term complications. From nerve and tissue damage to rejection to other things, you may even one year after the procedure.
Now, don’t get scared, every procedure has its complications and just because we feel it’s right to talk about it, doesn’t mean you will have them. Let’s go into the details!
What are the complications of a dental implant?
An essential part of our guide to dental implants cannot fail to be one talking about the complications of dental implants. This part is not meant to scare the patient as the rate of most complications is extremely low. At Dentifix we are confident that an informed patient is a patient who makes the right decisions to improve their smile. We could try to hide possible complications, but we never will. If you know them, you know how to avoid them.
The complications of a dental implant are all the possible side effects and possible complications that a dental implant can bring. Complications can usually occur short-term or long-term. This is because some can occur in the first months after implantation, in the healing phase of the bone and gum. Others are considered long-term and can occur after 6 months or 1 year.
Side effects range from bleeding, post-implantation infection, implant rejection to allergic reactions. Knowing these possibilities will help you choose the right doctor and carefully follow all postoperative rules and recommendations.
Short term dental implant complications
When we talk about short-term complications of dental implants, we mean those complications that can occur during the first four to six months following the application of dental implants. These are usually related to a lack of jaw bone support or a lack of post-operative implant care. For example, smoking is a great enemy of the post-implantation healing process. Doctor’s mistakes could also affect the final result.
The main short term complications are:
- Chronic Bleeding
- Infection of the implant
- Micro-movements of the implant
- Insufficient bone support
- Allergic reaction
- Complications due to smoking
- Complications due to medical conditions
Note: when we say « application of the dental implant » we mean the first surgery. The one in which the dentist will insert the dental implant in the jawbone.
Let’s get into details!
One of the most easily recognized side effects is chronic bleeding. After implantation in some rare cases, chronic bleeding occurs and, if not stopped, can lead to side effects such as stomach pain or anemia. Excessive bleeding can just create more problems. In case you notice excessive bleeding, it is important to contact the surgeon immediately to resolve the situation quickly.
If you notice chronic bleeding, don’t try to touch with your hands or insert foreign objects to stop it. Just call your dentist and follow their advice!
Infection of the implant
One of the first complications we have to talk about is infection. This can start as inflammation and develop into an infection. Sometimes you will feel pain, sometimes notice fever. They’re easy to notice and happen often if you don’t follow every single recommendation your surgeon gives you. An infection is possible in the immediate post-op period and needs immediate medical attention. If you feel pain and have a fever, get in touch with your doctor. These are easy to avoid, just carefully listen to the doctor’s advice.
Micro-movements of the implant
What does « micro movement » means? A micro-movement is a slight move or shift of the implant. Sometimes it’s so slight, you may not even notice. However you may feel a tight feeling, or when you look in the mirror you may see the implant slightly moved and not matching.
What do you do if you see signs of micro-movement? Easy, call your dentist!
Insufficient bone support
The surgeon, at the time of the operation, will evaluate the amount of bone present in the jaw. This is because the dental implant needs an adequate amount of bone to be supported properly. If there’s enough support, you may proceed with the implant. If it’s not, you may need a bone graft.
In some cases, however, the amount of bone can decrease quickly as in the case of osteoporosis or severe gum disease. This can lead to fractures and the need to remove the implant immediately. You may need a bone graft bbfore addinng anotheer implant to yuour dental tratmeent plan.
Before you undergo a dental implant and just to avoid the complications of a dental implant, you will need to inform your doctor of any allergies. Especially if you are allergic to titanium. If you are allergic to titanium you will need to use another material.
Also, if you are allergic to other metals you will still tell your doctor about this allergy. In fact, sometimes there may be traces of other metals in your dental implant. An informed doctor will know the composition of the implant and will choose the one that best suits your needs.
Complications due to smoking
Smoking is the biggest enemy of dental implants. This is because smoking reduces the blood flow to the gums. It leads to a reduction on natural ability of the body to heal fastly and correctly. According to some studies, smoking patients have a 20% higher rate of dental implant failure. We recommend that you avoid smoking one week before the surgery and at least two months after.
Complications due to medical conditions
When we say you should be thorough and truthful during the consultation, we mean it! There are some conditions that can cause, or increase the rates, of dental implant failure. You need to disclose them when you talk to your dentist during the consultation, may this be online or in person. The main medical conditions that increase the chance of failure are:
- Diabetes: Reduces the body’s ability to heal properly and quickly. For this, it can lead to a number of problems in the healing phase.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Like diabetes, it reduces the body’s ability to heal properly and quickly. it can lead to a number of problems in the healing phase.
- Heartburn medications: this type of medicine reduces the body’s ability to produce bone material, increasing the time and reducing the implant’s osseointegration capacity.
- Alcoholism: Like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, it reduces the body’s ability to heal properly and quickly. This is why it may lead to a number of problems in the healing phase.
- Cancer: A cancer subject has a lower ability to heal as well as is more at risk of infections. Usually, while using chemotherapy, the patient’s immune defenses are lowered. For this reason, cancer patients often cannot have a dental implant.
Long term dental implant complications
The other type of complication of dental implants is termed long-term. What does the long term mean? It means that it occurs after a long period of time. These are usually complications that occur at least six months after the dental implant installation process. Therefore they occur after the healing and calcification process of the implant, sometimes even after a year.
Usually in the long run they are more important side effects but they can often be resolved. The most common are:
- Nerve and tissue damage
- Gum recession
- Sinus issues
- Rejection of the foreign body
- Loose implant
- Injury in the surrounding area
- Damage from excessive force
- Corrosion of the implant
Let’s check them out!
Nerve and tissue damage
When it comes to the long-term complications of dental implants, nerve and tissue damage must be mentioned. If the implant is placed too close to the nerve, it could cause damage. The patient would notice sensations of tingling and numbness in the lips, face, tongue, and gum. The nerve damage can be permanent or temporary. It will be important to contact your doctor immediately in case you think there may be nerve damage. If it’s cured early, you may need to avoid permanent nerve damage.
Another complication related to dental implants is gum recession. What is it about? It means that your gums will begin to recede away from your teeth or your dental prosthetic. Not only you may notice the gums going up but also notice redness, pain, and inflammation. Please get in touch with your doctor if this occurs.
If the dental implant is placed in an area that does not have sufficient dental structure, the implant could migrate to the sinuses’ air cavities, creating a nasal septal infection over time. However, there is no need to worry, this problem is easily solved with medical treatment and care.
Rejection of the foreign body
A dental implant is made from artificial materials, foreign to the body. This is why your body may reject it. Most of the time it’s because your body is allergic to titanium or the other metals used for the implant. The problem is, if you never had a titanium or metal implant in another place in your body, you won’t probably know if you’re allergic. Luckily, this type of allergy is not common!
You can have an early implant rejection if it occurs during the 4 months after the implant, so before the jaw bone is completely healed, or a late implant rejection, if it happens after the bone, is fully healed. Usually, this happens because of poor oral hygiene, a poor post-op acre, or traumas.
The most common complication is a loose implant. This can happen for so many reasons. A bone that’s not dense or strong enough, bone loss because of aging, gum problems, poor oral hygiene, smoking, and alcohol. Even some medical conditions can create problems. In this case, the doctor should be contacted immediately.
Injury in the surrounding area
What happens if the implant becomes loose? Well, you can get damage in the surrounding area of the implants. There could be damage to the gums or the blood vessels. If you feel like you could have a loose implant, get in touch with the dentist immediately. You don’t want to wait and create some problems in the surrounding areas.
Damage from excessive force
The exact term for this complication is overloading. By overloading, we mean pressure or force that is out of the ordinary and from what is considered normal. This excessive pressure, often unintentional or accidental, can lead to a fracture or loosening of the implant. Often the break occurs in the area of the dental prosthesis (crown, bridge or denture). This is because the implant, made of titanium, is the strongest part of the entire dental implant. If this excessive force occurs in the first few months after dental implantation, there may be problems with osseointegration.
Fortunately, this complication is very rare and is not commonly seen in dental implant patients.
Corrosion of the implant
When we talk about we mean a progressive and spontaneous loss of the material of the dental implant. This corrosion is often caused by the environment the implant is in, by the oral health of the patient, and by the material used to create the implant. Usually, titanium is the best material to avoid corrosion.
What are the normal dental implant side effects?
We have so far talked about all the most worrying and rare complications but now let’s talk about what is normal to expect after a dental implant operation.
The most normal side effects of a dental implant are:
- Painful or uncomfortable sensations
- Light bleeding
The swelling usually lasts a couple of days, is concentrated in the side of the implant, or is widespread if it is an implant that takes all the gums. If advised by your doctor, ice packs might help. The same goes for bruises on the face and gums. They will pass autonomously and should not cause problems. As for pain sensations, these are annoying but not worrying if they last about a week. Over-the-counter pain relievers should help control the discomfort. It will also be possible to notice slight bleeding for the first few days. This is also normal, but if you notice that the bleeding does not stop, contact your doctor immediately.
Přikrylová J, Procházková J, Podzimek Š. Side Effects of Dental Metal Implants: Impact on Human Health (Metal as a Risk Factor of Implantologic Treatment). Biomed Res Int. 2019;2019:2519205. Published 2019 Jul 10. doi:10.1155/2019/2519205
Kasat V, Ladda R. Smoking and dental implants. J Int Soc Prevent Communit Dent [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Feb 15];2:38-41. Available from: https://www.jispcd.org/text.asp?2012/2/2/38/109358
Olmedo DG, Tasat DR, Duffó G, Guglielmotti MB, Cabrini RL. The issue of corrosion in dental implants: a review. Acta Odontol Latinoam. 2009;22(1):3-9. PMID: 19601489.