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Dental Implant Complications: Recognizing Signs and Seeking Timely Treatment

A man examining his new dental crown in a mirror with his dentist.

Many Americans have replaced a missing tooth with dental implants. They are successful 98% of the time, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any problems. Knowing the early signs of trouble with your implant will prevent more significant problems later.

It’s vital to talk to your dentist when there is a chance of a complication with your dental implants. Being proactive prevents implant failure and sets you up for a lifetime of success.

The Basics of Dental Implants

Dental implants are tooth replacements resembling a natural tooth. They have a metal post made from titanium that’s put into the jawbone where the missing tooth was and acts like the tooth’s root. The post fuses with the metal, creating a durable restoration.

These posts are strong enough to support crowns, bridges, or dentures. You can easily eat and talk with them. They are made to look like your teeth, and if you take good care of them, they can last forever.

Factors Contributing to Dental Implant Complications

Many aspects raise the risk of dental implant problems. After the procedure, don’t drink or smoke. Smoking can especially interfere with how your gums heal because it reduces blood flow to the area.

Some medicines might also slow down the healing of your dental implant. If you have health issues, like arthritis or diabetes, make sure to discuss these with your dentist before surgery. They need to know about your medicines to help prevent any problems with the implant.

Taking care of your mouth is key to making your implants last. Routinely flossing will remove food and plaque that gets lodged between your teeth. Removing these particles helps prevent gum disease, which is good not just for your implants but for your overall health.

Warning Signs of Dental Implant Complications

While some pain is expected after implant surgery, sometimes it’s a warning sign of a bigger problem. If you have these symptoms, it’s time to get help from your dentist.

Continuous and Extreme Pain

After surgery, you may notice that you get quick stabs of pain. But eating or moving your mouth should still be pretty easy for you. Consult your dentist to determine whether additional treatment is necessary.

Swollen or Inflamed Gum Tissue

Much like discomfort, it’s normal to have minor swelling after having dental implants placed. The swelling should subside in five days or less. If it hasn’t and you also notice redness, you likely have an infection. It can spread to other parts of your mouth and body without treatment.

Loose Implants

Implants can become loose because the bone around them isn’t strong enough. Other factors that can contribute to a loose implant are gum disease, smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, and poor oral hygiene. If your implant doesn’t feel right, contact your dentist.

Allergic Reactions

The go-to material for dental implants is typically a mix of titanium and other precious metals. It’s extremely uncommon for someone to react to these materials, but it’s not impossible. If you’re noticing the following signs, you may be having an allergic reaction:

  • Inflammation or swelling
  • A tingling sensation
  • Altered taste

Nerve Damage

Occasionally, a dental implant might be positioned too close to a nerve, leading to some damage. You might notice a tingly sensation or numbness in your gums, lips, tongue, or face. Your dentist will likely recommend removing the implant to fix this issue, but it’s important to know that there are times when the numbness doesn’t go away completely.

Addressing Concerns With Dental Implants

Quickly dealing with any dental implant complications is vital to the long-term success of the implant and your health. If something about your implant feels off, discuss it with your dentist to see what can be done.

Sometimes, it’s a simple fix that requires antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medication. These prescriptions fight the infection and reduce the swelling. Other times, it’s more complicated, requiring a small surgery to remove infected tissue or strengthen the bone by placing additional bone grafting material.

When things are more complicated, the implant might need to come out. Sometimes, adjusting the technique or implant size can resolve the problem, but every patient is different. Your dentist will conduct an exam and recommend the best course of action to restore your oral health.

The Road to Implant Success Starts Here

Curious about dental implants? Dr. Brett Langston, DMD, and his friendly team are here to answer your questions. Contact us today and schedule your appointment!