What can cause dental implant failure?

dental implant failure

Not every dental implant story is a straight forward success. In fact, dental implant failure is a real occurrence and this is a major issue for dental implant experts. So this is why it’s important to have the right knowledge and experience to manage this occurrence.

There are several different methods which can be used to diagnose implant failure:

  • Color changes of the tissue around the implant
  • Implant mobility
  • Suppuration
  • Hyperplastic soft tissue (signs of tissue infection)
  • Gradual bone loss seen on radiographs

What makes a dental implant procedure successful?

Just like there are several indicators of implant failure, there is also a criterion that has to be met in order to consider the dental implant to be a complete success.

The first and foremost criteria is that there are no sights if infection of the surrounding tissue, no pain in the area where the implant is and mild gingival inflammation which can be easily treated. Furthermore, the bone loss after the implant should not be greater than 0.2mm annually. The dental implant should also be “holding steady” and be “immobile” when it’s tested clinically.

Now even if all this criterion is met, but the dental implant procedure caused damage to surrounding teeth, you could be facing an implant failure. So, make sur that you work with an experienced and skillful dentist and implantologist to avoid this.

Sights that might indicate implant failure

After you had your dental implant procedure, we highly advise that you monitor the implant area daily and of course that you schedule follow up visits with your dentist in order to make sure that the implant was a success and that there are no other complications/problems. If you, or your dentist notice the following, these could be possible signs of implant failure:

  • If the implant fractures
  • If your gums look red or swollen
  • If you experience pain in the implant area
  • If the implant is mobile
  • Purulent exudates
  • Gum recession around the implant

These can all be possible signs of dental implant failure so you should contact your dentist as soon as possible and schedule an appointment so he/she can determine what is going on.

Are there different types of implant failures?

The short answer is yes. Since there can be different causes of implant failure, there are different types of failures. We distinguish 4 different types of implant failures:

  • Biological failure
  • Mechanical failure
  • Iatrogenic failure
  • Adaption failure

What factors can influence dental implant failure?

Patient factors

If a patient has poor bone quality or even quantity, questionable oral health or even general health, unhealthy oral habits, there’s a higher risk of implant failure. For example, if the patient is suffering from Diabetes, osteoporosis or if the patient is osteopenic, the dentist has to do a careful evaluation whether a dental implant procedure is feasible or not.

Oral hygiene

Good oral hygiene is important in general. But when it comes to dental implants, even more so. Poor dental hygiene can cause formation of oral biofilm. And since implants have no periodontal ligament between them and the bone, the microbial plaque can easily form on the rough surface of the implant, leading to inflammation. If the inflammation occurs and it’s not controlled, it can lead to bone loss and eventually, implant failure.

Implant design and placement

Implant success or failure is also influenced by what kind of implant is being used (shape and size) as well as the skills of the dentist. For example, longer implants and implants with bigger diameter, ensure better contact to the bone and making the procedure more successful. Furthermore, the spacing between the implant and your natural teeth should be at least 3mm in order to prevent bone necrosis and bone loss.

Even though dental implants are highly successful dental procedures, there are satiations of dental implant failures. But with proper assessment, the right choice of implant, dentist’s skillset and aftercare, you can be sure that you’ll have a successful outcome.


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Dr. Nguyen
Dr. Nguyen

Dr. Nguyen is committed to providing high-quality dentistry using state-of-the-art equipment to help you achieve improved oral health and the beautiful smile you deserve.

Dr. Nguyen has served on the Virginia Board of Dentistry and has many achievements such as: Invisalign Premier and Teen Provider, Pre-Fellow with Academy of General Dentistry, Graduate of Aesthetic Continuum, Engel Institute for Dental Implant Training, WaveOne Endodontic Training, HD President’s Club.

Dr. Nguyen enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters, staying active in the gym, and trying out new restaurants.  When he isn’t at work, you can find him playing basketball, tennis, football, or hiking.

“I want to make you feel right at home, exceed your expectations, and provide an amazing experience!”