A dental implant refers to permanent replacement of a missing tooth, or a damaged tooth with an artificial one. The replaced tooth resembles and functions like the real tooth. In comparison to the several restorative options for tooth loss, such as dentures and bridges, dental implants are considered to be the most functionally effective and durable procedures. Advantages of the same include high esthetics, stability, comfort, and convenience.
Very often, dentists recommend dental implants in conjunction with another procedure to increase their effectiveness. Let's discuss in brief, the dental implant procedure and its possible complications.
When speaking about the procedure for dental implant, know that it is performed in successive stages. Preoperative implant diagnostic imaging has a vital role to assay in order to further the procedure. Sophisticated imaging techniques evaluate the quality and the angulation of the bone, determine the correctness of the site that calls for an implant, verify the suitability of the implant for the particular case, and if a preimplantation ridge surgery is required. Imaging procedures include panoramic radiology, cone-beam computed tomography, and computed tomography. Advanced imaging techniques are adopted, postoperatively to diagnose any discrepancy in the implant; i.e., the implant has osseointegrated, or the implant is not positioned appropriately courtesy of which, the procedure maybe deemed unsuccessful.
The surgery involves safely placing the implant -- made up of titanium -- in a predrilled socket in the jawbone and fixing the abutment for support. The complete process may take somewhere about 2 to 3 weeks, or as long as 3 to 9 months depending upon the implant type and general health of the jawbone. As per the statistics, the success rate of dental implants over a 5-year study period is about 95% for the lower jaw and 90% for the upper jaw. Nevertheless, similar to other surgical procedures, some complications do exist with this dental surgery.
Problems and Complications
The dental implant procedure is performed for replacing one or many teeth. While it is considered to be a better alternative to other teeth-restorative options, mild to moderate complications are reported by candidates, who have received dental implants. In some candidates, the problems are related to rejection of the implants by the jawbone, or they fail to osseointegrate with the jawbone. Following are some of the problems of dental implants that may develop after completion of the process.
Peri-implantitis or periimplantitis is one of the major reasons for dental implant failure. It is caused due to bacterial, or other microbial infection at the surgery site. The symptoms are manifested as swelling and inflammation of the tissues that surround the dental implants. In severe cases, peri-implantitis may lead to gradual damage of the jawbone.
☛ Tissue Injury and Damage
Like other invasive surgeries, a dental implant procedure may cause injury and/or damage to the tissues in the adjacent area. It is reported as a common problem accompanied with dental implants. The affected area usually swells temporarily, which becomes normal within a few days. Proper care should be taken to prevent infection at the implantation site.
☛ Loose Dental Implants
Loose implant is another complication that prospective candidates should be aware of. It results due to improper placement of the implant in the jawbone, or if the implant fails to integrate with the jawbone. At times, the implanted artificial tooth made up of titanium may break at the site. If such is the case, replacement of the dental implant should be done as soon as possible.
☛ Nerve Damage
Another dental implant problem is nerve damage at the insertion site. It is caused due to placement of the implant being very close to the nerve or, at times, over the nerve. Nerve damage causes unbearable pain, particularly if the artificial tooth is positioned directly over the nerve. In such a case, the patient should report this to the concerned dentist, immediately. The dentist may remove the implant (if necessary), and replace it.
☛ Sinus Problems
Sinus problems after dental implants is often exhibited when the implantation procedure carried out is meant for the upper jaw. What happens in such a case is, the implant disturbs some of the sinus cavities, resulting in sinus-related symptoms. To address this complication, the dentist may conduct the surgery again to replace the implant.
☛ Implant Integration Failure
A major risk encountered by the patient is based on the incompatibility between implants and the receptive bone. To avoid a condition of this ilk, the dentist studies the density of the jawbone so as to understand if it is strong enough to resist the surgery. If this is not done and the implants fail to integrate, they may not function the way they are supposed to; i.e., they may become loose and as a result, over a period, may dislodge themselves completely. If the surgery is unsuccessful at first, the procedure is repeated once the patient recovers, and the condition of the jaw has improved.
☛ Dental Implant Decrowning
This is an issue, closely connected with implant integration failure. The implant if crowned may loosen and cause it to be exposed. It may also be possible that the protection served by the crown to the implanted tooth suffers damage and comes off, thereby affecting the longevity of the integration surgery as well.
This condition is marked by the numbness experienced by the neighboring regions as a consequence of implantation. The nerve may have been injured due to the procedure, hence the numbness. The condition must not last long; however, if it does, do not hesitate to call your dentist.
☛ Dental Implant Failure
A rare cause for failure of this dental procedure is fixing of two teeth over one implant. Like the configuration of natural teeth, one tooth should be positioned over one implant to achieve satisfactory results. Also, the risk of failure is a bit higher amongst those, who opted for immediate loading surgery (loading of the implant, shortly after tooth extraction).
There are certain factors that place the individual in a high-risk zone, where occurrence of complications is concerned. Those who smoke or drink are at a potential risk of developing an infection. Besides, the time taken to rehabilitate post implantation maybe longer than what is ideally necessary. A weak immune system may also be considered an active cause for pupating infection in the teeth post surgery.
- Within a day or two of the surgery, mild bleeding in the operated area maybe observed. This is no unusual an occurrence. For this, use a gauze pad over the affected site for 20 to 30 minutes.
- For candidates who have been through the dental implant procedure, adopting good oral hygiene is a prerequisite. Failure to do so, increases the risk of infection at the surgery site.
- While chewing food, don't put pressure on the newly loaded implant. Increased stress may result in fracture of the abutment and broken implant screws.
- During the healing period and afterwards, avoid drinks containing caffeine and tobacco products. They not only stain the implants, but also lengthen the recovery time.
- After the procedure, go for follow-up visits regularly or at least once in every 6 months. This is to ensure optimal functioning of the implants (like real teeth).
- In order to get prompt results out of dental implant surgery, a prospective candidate should consult an experienced dentist about the pros and cons of the procedure.
Thus, after the surgery, follow the necessary lifestyle changes in terms of diet, eating habits, and personal hygiene as prescribed by the concerned dentist.