Dental Implant Complications

Are Dental Implant Complications Common?

Dental implant complications do occur, though not very frequently. While the success rate of having a dental implant is somewhat above 90%, problems can occur. Sometimes the implant fails to "take hold" permanently, and sometimes other dental implant complications such as infection or another kind of disorder can surface.

Dental implants are somewhat expensive, but the same can be said for the alternatives, bridgework or dentures. Bridgework and dentures don't bring with them the same potential problems that an implant can, but still carry their own sets of problems. Of the three options, implants are generally considered to be the most permanent solution as far as the replacement of teeth is concerned.

A dental implant involves drilling a hole into the jawbone and placing an anchor or a post into the hole. For an implant to be successful, the post, most often made of titanium, must eventually bond to the jawbone, a process which normally takes up to six months. The replacement tooth, an artificial crown, is then attached to the upper part of the post once bonding has occurred.

Infection - Since implants involve surgery, and surgery always involves a certain amount of risk, most of the dental implant complications apt to be encountered will either be due to surgery or some post surgical condition, and as with any surgery, one of the more commonly encountered complication is that of infection. The gum tissue may become infected or in some cases the jawbone itself may become infected. If the infection spreads, the roots of neighboring teeth can be damaged, and when implants are placed in the upper jaw, any infection occurring can potentially spread to the sinus area.

Weak Jaw Bone - Another complication which may arise is on occasion, an implant, initially considered to be successful, may fail. This sometimes will happen if the jawbone is not strong enough to withstand the stress placed on the tooth and the anchor while chewing. This is fairly rare, but is most apt to happen if a long time has elapsed since teeth have been extracted before implants are put in place. Over time, if there are no teeth present, a section of the jawbone may begin to degenerate, becoming smaller or narrower, and therefore making any stress placed on the bone more significant.

Medications Can Be A Problem Source - Certain medications can be the cause of an implant failing to take hold or failing at a later time. A dental surgeon will ask what medications you are taking at the time an implant procedure is being scheduled, and may recommend against an implant if certain medications are being taken. Chemotherapy can also work against an implant taking hold, as the drugs involved tend to kill new bone cells, and keep the bone from tightly bonding to the anchor. Some drugs used to treat arthritis can have the same effect.

Don't Smoke - The number one source of dental implant complications however has little to do with surgical procedures or medications. The number on cause of implant failures is smoking. For an implant to take hold, one of the essential elements involved in the bonding process is oxygen. The presence of nicotine in the bloodstream can often cause an oxygen deficiency great enough to result in failure of the implant.


If you don't smoke, or are able to quite before the implant procedure is done, if you aren't taking certain medications, and if your jawbone is basically strong and healthy, the implant procedure should be successful in almost all cases. It is assumed of course that the oral surgeon is knowledgeable as far as the procedure is concerned, and it would never hurt to try and find one who has plenty of experience and a known track record.