Although dental implants have a very impressive success rate – more than 95 percent– that doesn’t change the fact that a small percentage of them can fail. Perhaps the most common problem dental patients encounter is discovering that an implant has become loose.
So what to do if your implant is loose? Make an appointment to have it examined immediately by your dentist or oral surgeon. In many cases, dental patients who notice movement in implant-based dental restorations will find, upon professional examination, that the movement stems from a loose abutment or crown, rather than the implant itself. However, since these issues can lead to implant damage or failure quite quickly, having them corrected as soon as possible is important. For the patient who finds that the implant itself is the problem, immediate treatment can, in some cases, save it. However, most implants that have become loose will require removal to prevent damage to the jawbone. When that happens, a new implant can generally be placed after a healing period, although bone grafting may be necessary to ensure a stability.
Possible causes of a loose dental implant
There are several reasons why a dental implant can become loose, so let’s take a look:
Osseointegration fails to take place
Once the implant post has been surgically placed into the jawbone, the surgeon would hope that the surrounding bone grows over the surface of the implant to create a physical bond. This process is known as osseointegration. If the body’s natural healing ability is impaired or the implant is placed under undue pressure, then osseointegration can fail to take place. Other causes for this process not to happen can be that the implant has been placed into an area where there is insufficient healthy bone to support it, or the implant hasn’t been placed properly and this can cause it to fail to form an adequate bond. Typically this would happen fairly soon after the implant has been placed.
Another common cause for an implant to fail is an infection known as peri-implantitis. This is similar to gum disease which can happen around biological teeth and is caused by bacteria attacking the gum tissue which supports the implant. Sometimes this can happen during the surgery itself, but more often than not infection can occur months or years after implant placement and is caused by poor oral hygiene and occasionally by the cement that is used to secure the crowns to the abutments. This can cause inflammation of the gums which in turn can undermine the bone supporting the implant, causing it to loosen.
This can occur when freshly placed implants are subjected to too great a pressure which impacts on osseointegration. It usually happens when patients are receiving their false teeth at the same time that the implants are placed, or in cases where implants are disturbed during their healing period, by pressure being placed on the abutments which protrude, for example.
Loose, or poorly made prosthetics
It’s not uncommon for prosthetics such as dentures, bridges, and crowns to cause their supporting implants to become loose if they themselves become unstable, because of cement or screws loosening, wear and tear, or poor fitting in the first place, which causes them to shift in the mouth when a person bites or chews. This movement can put pressure on the implant causing it to loose its bond with the jawbone and to loosen.
The top of your implant has a hollow area that an attachment (known as an abutment) gets screwed into. This abutment sticks out of the gum and your crown is cemented on top of it. At times it’s possible for the abutment will begin to unthread from the implant, making it loose. This is a pretty straightforward problem to address and it doesn’t affect the actual implant.
Since the crown is held on with cement, the seal can be broken causing the crown to become unglued. This is a simple solution that will just require more cement.
Gum Disease and Bone Loss
Getting gum disease around your implant (or more accurately put, a case of “peri-implantitis”) is a serious issue. The infection from gum disease eats away at the jaw bone that holds the dental implant in place. It’s possible for the bone to deteriorate so much that the implant doesn’t have anything to hold it, so that it falls out. The same can be said for your natural teeth.
If your dental implant feels loose or has fallen out, call us immediately. Other symptoms of an issue with your dental implant, may be less obvious. Here are some things to look out for:
- Visible bone loss
- Bleeding when touched
- Discoloration around the area
Again a loose crown can have very similar symptoms, so contact us right away to get to the bottom of your symptoms.
Based on clinical mobility and radiographic peri-implant radiolucency, a diagnosis of implant failure can be established.
- Radiographic assessment alone may be misleading; radiological bone loss may not always be associated with dental implant mobility. Therefore, clinical investigation is crucial to establishing the diagnosis.
- Careful clinical assessment should reveal a mobile implant. The diagnosis may be more difficult under a multiple-unit fixed partial denture (FPD) and might require removal of the overlying prosthesis to identify the mobile implant.
Carefully examine the implant and the prosthesis to differentiate between a loose prosthesis and the body of the implant.
Consequences Of An Untreated Loose Dental Implant
Failure to treat a loose dental implant can have dire effects on your health. If there is an infection it can spread to the rest of your mouth, jaw, neck and even your brain. Sepsis can occur, which infects your blood and can even lead to Ludwig’s Angina, a disease that can lead to suffocation or meningitis. Anyone with a weakened immune system is even more at risk for these side effects. By not treating a loose dental implant you risk not only losing several teeth but your overall health and possibly even your life in severe cases.
How to manage loosed dental implants?
Knowing what to do if your dental implant fell out is important. You should avoid trying to handle this problem on your own. If a fake tooth fell out or a dental implant healing cap came off, you will need to have professional dental treatment for it. Dental implant specialists can determine the most appropriate loose dental implants treatment to use for your situation.
In some cases, you might only need to have the area thoroughly cleaned. Your dentist will first remove the crown, then clean the affected area and examine it. This examination helps your dentist decide if the implant can be put back in place or if it needs to be replaced. This depends on the kind of problem you’re having, such as any of the following:
- My dental implant screw came out
- My dental abutment fell out
- My dental implants is loose
- My dental crown came off
A screw, crown, or abutment might be able to be cleaned, checked, and put back in place securely. This prevents you from having to wait for a replacement. However, you might need to have a new dental implant done under certain conditions. If your dental implant ended up failing or if it did not properly fuse to your jawbone, you might need to have a new one done. This means you will have to go through the dental implant process all over again in order to replace your missing tooth. While this might seem inconvenient, it allows you to restore your smile and experience the other benefits of a successful dental implant.
All on 4 Dental Implants
Depending on how many implants you have, you might be able to get All on 4 Dental Implants instead of having each implant repaired or replaced. All on 4 implants or full mouth dental implants provide a more convenient way to replace many missing teeth compared to single tooth dental implants. While there are certain risks associated with All on 4 implants, your dental implant specialist can reduce the chance of them happening. These risks are similar to the risks you would face with any type of invasive dental work, such as bleeding or infections.
Single Tooth Dental Implants
Single tooth dental implants provide a way to replace one missing tooth at a time. If your single implant has fallen out or become loose, a dental implant specialist can repair it or replace it as needed. Having a dental implant specialist handle this process helps ensure that it is done correctly. This helps reduce your risk of having your single dental implant become loose again or fall out.
How to Prevent Tooth Implants Coming Loose?
What can you do to stop your dental implants from becoming loose? In some cases, there isn’t a way to do this. For example, you might not be able to prevent bone loss from occurring or an implant from failing. However, you can take some steps to reduce your risk of dealing with loose dental implants, such as:
- Having gum disease treated promptly
- Brushing and flossing regularly to keep your dental implants in good condition
- Following your dental implant specialists’ instructions on caring for your dental implants
Keep in mind that you might have your dental implants become loose after you have had them for many years. This can occur if you have problems with your gum tissue or an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes. You can also end up with loose implants several years after getting them if you tend to grind your teeth or if you do not brush and floss properly and on a regular basis.
What happens if you already have a loose implant? Despite taking steps to prevent your implants from coming loose, you might experience this problem. If so, you should see your dentist as soon as you’re able to. If you have a dental implant that has fallen out, you should do the following:
- Place the crown, screw, or other part that came out in a clean and safe container
- Make an appointment with your dentist or ask if you can come in for emergency care
- Rinse your mouth using a mouthwash that doesn’t contain any alcohol
- Do not chew any food on that side of your mouth