When it comes to replacing missing teeth, dental implants are the best long-term solution. They offer a highly effective way to restore your smile and improve your oral health, and when properly cared for, can last a lifetime.
While this treatment has a 95% success rate, there is a very small chance that problems can arise. The good news is that dental implant failure is not necessarily the end of the world and there are ways to fix a loose restoration.
In this article, we’ll discuss the different scenarios that may cause a dental implant to become loose as well as what you need to do to ensure it gets resolved quickly.
Diagnosing the root cause of the problem
An implant is made up of three parts: the dental implant crown (artificial tooth), the abutment (connector), and the actual implant (artificial tooth root).
The cause of dental implant failure could rest at any of those three points, each of which would present different symptoms.
The dental crown is loose
In most cases when implants feel loose, the underlying cause isn’t the implant itself but rather a loose crown.
There are two main types of dental crowns: cemented and screw-retained crowns. The cemented ones use dental glue instead of a screw to attach to the implant.
Sometimes, the seal between the crown and the implant can get disturbed, making the glue less effective. In such cases, the solution is to add more dental cement.
If the crown comes completely off, we can replace it.
If the crown becomes fractured or cracked due to teeth grinding or injuries, we will need to replace it with a new crown.
The abutment is loose
The abutment is the connecting piece that secures a screw-retained crown to the implant root.
Abutment failure can occur if the abutment screw begins unthreading. A loose abutment does not impact the integrity of the underlying implant and is a relatively easy fix.
The implant post is loose
In rare cases where the implant root itself is loose, you may experience the following symptoms:
- The sensation of movement in the affected tooth.
- Discomfort, pain, swelling, or signs of infection in the gum area surrounding the dental implant.
- Difficulty or inability to chew or bite down.
- Discoloration of the gum line around the inflamed region.
- Bleeding in the vicinity of the tooth.
- Loss of bone density and gum recession.
- Total displacement of the dental implant.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact a dental professional immediately for a follow-up appointment and revision.
What causes a loose dental implant?
Damage to dental restorations can occur for a number of reasons. The most common causes include:
- Uneven bite force: An uneven bite force can contribute to the failure of a tooth implant by subjecting the implant and surrounding structures to imbalanced pressure. Over time, this uneven pressure may cause issues such as micro-movements, damage to the implant components, or compromised stability.
- Biting on hard substances: Dental implants are designed to withstand normal biting and chewing forces, but excessive pressure from biting on hard foods or using your teeth as tools can lead to various issues including damage to the implant components, the surrounding bone, and gum tissue.
- Facial trauma: Trauma that significantly impacts the structural integrity of the jaw can potentially lead to implant failure. This may include incidents such as severe blows to the face, accidents, or injuries that result in fractures or damage to the jaw bone, surrounding tissues, or the implant site.
- Bruxism: Bruxism is the habitual and involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth. This often occurs during sleep, and individuals with bruxism may not be aware of the behavior. Bruxism can exert significant pressure on the teeth and jaw, potentially leading to issues such as tooth wear, jaw pain, and damage to dental restorations. Mouth guards or other measures may be required to alleviate the effects of grinding and protect the teeth.
- Failed osseointegration: This is a condition in which the titanium tooth root fails to fuse to the jawbone completely. Osseointegration is crucial for the stability and success of dental implants. If the process fails, it can lead to complications such as implant mobility and discomfort. Preexisting health conditions may be the cause of delayed healing.
- Improper placement: If the dental implant wasn’t placed correctly, there may be movement between the implant and the socket. Dental implants are an expensive treatment option partly because of the level of expertise required by the dentist to perform such a procedure. The success of your implant not only requires planning but also relies on the precision of a skilled implant dentist. If you choose a dentist who offers the same treatment at a significantly cheaper cost, their inexperience may end up costing you a lot more money, time, physical pain, and a delayed recovery period. Dr. Delwyn Dick, DDS, Dr. Lamont Murdoch, DDS, and Dr. Miranda Anderson, DDS, have over 25 years of experience in cosmetic dentistry with a specialty in the placement of dental implants. With this team of highly specialized dentists, you can rest assured that you’re in the best hands for this type of treatment.
- Insufficient bone support: A lack of bone support around the implant can compromise the stability of the restoration. At Kootenai Dental Group in Coeur d’Alene, ID, our dentists perform an analysis during your initial consultation to ensure that you have enough bone density in your jaw to sustain the implant long-term. If you don’t, a bone graft may be necessary before the implant procedure.
- Peri-implantitis: Peri-implantitis is a condition that involves inflammation of the gums and the supporting bone structure surrounding the dental implant. This is a serious infection that can lead to the loss of supporting bone and, if not addressed, may compromise the stability and longevity of the dental implant.
- Periodontal disease: Gum disease and bone loss resulting from poor oral hygiene practices can cause an infection in the gums which will affect the success rate of your dental restoration if not treated promptly.
What you should do if an implant becomes loose
In the event of the dental implant loosening, it’s crucial that you don’t overlook the problem. Take swift action because it won’t resolve on its own and will worsen over time.
We recommend you take the following steps:
1. Call your dentist immediately and schedule an appointment for a thorough examination. During the evaluation, the dentist will assess the implant to determine the next steps, which may include tightening, removal, or replacement. In some cases, additional imaging, such as X-rays, may be needed to get a comprehensive view.
2. Meanwhile, leave the area alone. Chew on the opposite side of the mouth and steer clear of hard, sticky, or chewy foods until you’ve had a chance to see a dentist.
3. If any part of the implant or dental crown has come out, please store it safely and take it with you to your dental appointment.
Again, it’s important not to delay your dentist’s visit, as early intervention can help prevent further complications and increase the chances of successfully addressing the problem.
Our team of specialists at Kootenai Dental Group in Coeur d’Alene, ID are experts in implant dentistry.
If you are considering dental implants, call 208-762-8750 to schedule a free consultation with us today!
Frequently asked questions:
Is a loose implant an emergency?
Unless you’re experiencing extreme pain or bleeding, a loose dental implant is not necessarily a dental emergency. In any case, it does require prompt attention by a cosmetic dentist to avoid further complications.
Can a loose dental implant get infected?
Yes, a loose dental implant can be susceptible to infection.
When an implant becomes loose, it may create a space between the implant and the surrounding gum and bone tissues. This gap can potentially allow bacteria to enter and cause an infection.
Infections around dental implants can manifest in various ways, including a bad taste in the mouth, bad breath, discomfort, a dull ache or throbbing pain, pus, and/or swollen gums. These symptoms should not be left untreated.
If you believe your dental implant may be infected, our cosmetic dentists in Coeur d’Alene, ID can help you. Call Kootenai Dental Group at 208-762-8750 for a thorough examination.
Should you pull out a loose dental implant?
No. Attempting to remove the implant yourself can lead to further complications, damage surrounding tissues, and worsen the situation.
It’s crucial to seek professional dental care.