Rarely, we hear of a case where dental implants have ‘failed.’ But, yes, they can require removal for several reasons. When I hear of these cases (or see them), it’s very concerning since I know what an investment the patient had to make, which is now lost. And, as a conscientious dentist, I’m well-versed in the careful planning and surgical skills necessary for successful implant treatment.
Dental implants are an excellent investment and designed to last a lifetime. While the success rate of dental implants is one of the highest of any implant-to-bone procedure performed in the body, why do dentists not guarantee them?
Dental implants are made from a material that is biologically compatible to living bone, called titanium. Implants serve as tooth root replacements and held by the jaw bone. Once placed, the bone grows around them, securing them into position. While the titanium implant itself is not vulnerable to decay, the bone and tissues that support the implant remain very much so.
When a patient has dental implants placed and leaves our office, they are given specific instructions on caring for their implant sites and keeping their mouth clean during the ‘healing process.’ Once the final teeth are attached to the implants, they are shown how to brush and floss, which is a daily requirement. Keeping the mouth clean and free of bacteria is important so the supporting bone and tissue do not become at risk for periodontal (gum) disease.
Many implant patients are scheduled for hygiene visits every 3 to 4 months rather than every 6 months. This helps the patient maintain his or her optimal oral health at the highest level.
Unfortunately, when a patient fails to maintain a daily at-home regimen of brushing and flossing as instructed, or they do not keep their scheduled hygiene visits, they put themselves in a high risk category for implant failure. It would be very unlikely that a doctor would guarantee dental implants when their success is out of their control once the patient leaves their office.
Additionally, if the patient is a smoker, this increases the chances of implant failure. Smoking dries out the tissues of the mouth significantly. This lengthens healing time and can hamper the body’s ability to combat bacteria efficiently. If the patient is also not complying with their oral care instructions, implant failure rates jump.
Unfortunately, there are also a few dentists out there who place dental implants with only minimal skills, accepting cases that are ‘over their heads.’ Patients should always ask questions about experience during implant consultations. Having implants removed and going through the process a second time should never happen.
Having dental implants should be a positive experience, from start to finish. It can be with the right dentist and your commitment to your oral health.