Dental Implants Fell Out
Dental implants are designed to be a durable, permanent tooth-replacement option that can last for up to two decades. However, in some cases, a dental implant may become loose or fall out.
Why Implants Fail
It is important to note that dental implants do not normally fall out without an underlying cause. Causes can include an error in installation or an underlying external cause, such as bone health, gum disease, and poor dental hygiene.
In the days and weeks following your dental implant surgery, the most common reasons for implant failure include the following:
- Poor bone quality that does not allow enough support for the implant
- A weak immune system
- Putting too much pressure on the implant during the healing phase
- Biological rejection
Your bone quality and immune system function can and should be assessed before your implant surgery. Healthy bones are essential for dental implants to be successful. Some factors to consider when assessing bone health include the following:
- Strong Bones. Make sure your bones are healthy and strong enough to support the dental implants. Your dentist will be able to determine if this is the case.
- Bone Mass and Age. As people get older, bone mass tends to decrease. Sometimes elderly people are given vitamin supplements or other recommendations to treat brittle bones or gum disease, thus improving the chances of dental implant success. Jawbones that cannot support the implant posts will rule out dental implants as an option.
- As for the other most common reasons for dental implant failure after surgery, following directions closely after the procedure will help make sure the implant is not put under too much stress or pressure, which is the most common reason for post-surgical implant loss. Biological rejection is a rare complication that is generally not predictable.
How to Care for Your Implants Over the Long Term
The following is some information on what you can do to keep your dental implants strong and in place once they have healed.
Avoid Certain Foods. Avoiding foods that can damage your dental implants is another way to extend their life and reduce the chances of a loose implant or having an implant fall out. People with dental implants should try to avoid the following types of foods:
- Hard Foods. Trying to chew hard foods can put too much pressure on the dental implant, which may weaken it or cause it to shift or move.
- Sticky Foods. These types of foods can cause bits of food particles to get stuck on the implants and are hard to brush off. Similar to hard foods, sticky foods can also cause your implant to shift or move.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene. To extend the lifespan of your implants, you should make sure you keep up with good oral hygiene practices. Dental implants require the same type of care that your natural teeth did. If oral hygiene is not maintained, you could develop gum disease, which will weaken the gums to the point where they cannot support the implant. Good oral hygiene requires the following responsibilities:
Daily brushing and flossing
- Regular, once- or twice-a-year visits to your dentist for check-ups
- Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
Also, if you have pain that doesn’t go away after your implant surgery, make sure you contact your dentist right away.
Signs Your Implant Is Failing
While dental implants can fall out right away, generally, when surgery has been successful, the main sign that a dental implant is failing is that it will become loose. The earlier this is discovered the better—discovering the cause for the loose implant can help the dentist resolve the issue before the implant falls out.
Other than becoming loose, signs that a dental implant is possibly failing include the following:
- Bone loss that is visible
- Bleeding when you touch the implant
- Noticeable discoloration around the implant site
If these symptoms persist, or if your implant falls out, it is imperative that you contact your dentist right away, not only so the implant can be secured or replaced, but also to prevent more serious complications. While uncommon, a dental implant that falls out can lead to potentially fatal infections. More than 500 species of bacteria can enter the area where the implant fell out, and can cause infections in the brain, heart, neck, and blood (known as sepsis). Therefore, it is very important to get a loose implant repaired right away, or a replacement implant if it has fallen out.
What to Do If an Implant Comes Out
If your dental implant (or a part of it) falls out, here are the steps you should take:
- First, save whatever part of the implant that fell out so you can show it to your dentist.
- Call your dentist right away for an appointment
- Avoid chewing on the side where the implant was
- Rinse your mouth with a mouthwash that doesn’t contain alcohol. You should do this three times a day.
What Can Be Done
How a failed or failing dental implant can be corrected depends on the reason it has failed. Sometimes patients think the implant has fallen out, when in fact it is a component of the implant but not the implant (metal post) itself.
In the vast majority of cases, the abutment (the metal piece that secures the crown to the post beneath the gums) has become dislodged, not the entire implant. In this case, the abutment can usually be replaced, and the crown can be reattached to it
Sometimes just the crown that has become loose, in which case it can be screwed back onto the abutment Sometimes, the abutment itself has been damaged and can be replaced. In both cases, the actual implant—the metal screw that is inserted into the jawbone—is still intact.
If the implant itself is loose and moving beneath the gums, it could be caused by a loss of bone mass or periodontal disease. When discovered early, periodontal disease can usually be resolved with improved oral hygiene and antibiotics. If these measures resolve the periodontal disease, you may still be able to have the implant re-secured.
If the implant itself does fall out—which is very uncommon--the tooth can be restored with a replacement tooth. However, bone grafting may be needed to make sure it is properly secured in the jawbone.
Only your dentist can determine the cause of a loose, failing, or lost dental implant. Your dentist will use x-rays and a physical examination to figure out why the implant has failed, and then discuss treatment options or, if the implant cannot be reinserted, other alternatives.
Don’t Worry Too Much
Dental implants have a very high success rate and are very reliable. The overwhelming majority of people with dental implants to not experience implant failures. If you and your dentist have determined you are a good candidate for dental implants, and you follow the directions and guidelines after the implants are installed, you should not experience many problems.