Dental implants have a success rate of almost ninety-nine percent when performed by a skilled oral surgeon. However, so many factors affect the body’s reaction to the implant itself, as well as the healing process, that it’s impossible to predict a completely successful outcome. If an implant becomes loose, it must be removed.

There is no use waiting for a loose dental implant to “tighten up;” delaying treatment only increases the chances of bone damage and/or bone loss surrounding the implant. After the implant is removed, the site must then be cleaned, and a bone graft should be placed to allow the site to heal. Once the site heals, another implant can be placed.

One failed implant does not indicate future risk

“The literature shows that one implant failure is not a risk factor for an additional implant failure. The etiology (cause) of the failure should be determined and treated when possible,” says Dr. James Ryan, DDS, MS, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and in the Washington D.C. area.

As a whole, dental implants are an extremely reliable course of treatment. But implants depend entirely on upon the gum tissue and the state of underlying bone integrating with the implant. In this way, dental implants act as replacement tooth roots.

Causes of Loose Dental Implants

The most common cause of a loose dental implant is failure in the process of osseointegration- the binding of bone tissue directly to the implant. This process of integration allows an implant to become securely anchored in the bone. But in rare cases, a layer of soft tissue forms between the implant and the bone and causes some mobility in the implant.

Possible factors contributing to failure of osseointegration include: bone quality, bone grafting, infection, bacterial contamination, and the degree of surgical trauma experienced. Smokers run a much higher risk of failed dental implants than non-smokers. Sometimes, an implant fails even without any complications from surgery or in the post-surgical healing process, and the causes of failure remain unknown.

Replacing a loose dental implant

The recommended course of treatment for an implant that has failed to integrate is a four-step process. First, the implant must be removed. Once it has been extracted, the surrounding site is cleaned and debrided thoroughly.

Next, a bone graft should be placed into the socket to allow the site to heal. The bone grafting procedure is a simple one, done to ensure that the bone does not recede, the way it naturally would once a tooth is removed. Preserving bone structure is crucial to the success of a dental implant; an implant can only be placed if sufficient bone tissue is present.

Growth of bone tissue from a bone graft is typically checked about four months after removing the initial implant. This time allows for healing as well as bonding of graft tissue onto the bone at the site of extraction. If the graft has produced enough bone tissue to support an implant, the patient can then be scheduled for a second implant procedure.

If the simple bone graft procedure has not produced adequate bone tissue for implant placement, additional bone grafting may be performed to ensure that one replaced, the dental implant will integrate properly into the bone and become permanently stable.

If you are experiencing a loose implant, schedule an appointment with an oral surgeon immediately. The expert and experienced surgical staff of Capitol Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery are here to answer any concerns or inquiries regarding dental implants and other cosmetic procedures.

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