While dental implants boast many benefits, patients should be aware of some potential negative effects that they may experience. This is particularly true for negative effects that are caused by choosing an inexperienced doctor.
Below, we’ll talk about potential negative effects, the most common cause for the long-term negative effects, and how patients can avoid these negative effects of dental implants.
The vast majority of the negative effects of dental implants happen after the initial surgery, so let’s take a moment to explore that part of the procedure more in-depth:
Whether you plan to get single implants, a few implants, or a full-row procedure like all-on-4 dental implants, the procedure will be a surgery. While the specific steps may vary slightly depending on your specific needs, the following are general steps you can expect to experience when receiving dental implants:
- First, patients are anesthetized with IV sedation.
- If damaged or failing teeth are present, these teeth are extracted.
- Then, the gums are cut open and a dental implant screw is placed into the jawbone.
- The gums are stitched around the screw; the abutment sits on top of the screw.
- Temporary prosthetic teeth are attached to the abutment.
After these steps, patients are sent home to allow their mouths to fully heal. After a couple of months of recovery, a permanent tooth/bridge is placed.
After the dental implant surgery, most patients will experience some discomfort. A skilled oral surgeon can reduce the intensity of these effects and how long they’re present, it is common to experience some discomfort the first week following the surgery.
General discomfort is common. You’ll have screws in your jawbone, and it may feel odd or unnatural to move your mouth. You may feel general mild pain in your jaw, your temporary prosthetics may feel strange, and you’ll have several new sensations you’re not used to. This is all normal, common, and short-lived.
Swelling is a common side-effect of any surgery, not just dental implants. If you’ve chosen an experienced oral surgeon for your procedure, the risk of something going wrong is especially low.
Bleeding is common immediately following the surgery and the first day or two afterwards while your gums heal. This is especially true if you had several teeth extracted or if you received bone grafts. Bleeding is typically light and easily managed, even if you had teeth extracted. However, if you have persistent bleeding after the first few days, you should contact your doctor.
Finally, we mentioned swelling in general, but inflammation of the gums is common right after your surgery. As your gums heal, inflammation will naturally subside, and it’s uncommon for patients to struggle with persistent inflammation. If the inflammation lasts a week or longer, that may be a sign of infection, which will need to be addressed by your doctor.
Dental implant failure is uncommon, especially when performed by an oral surgeon. However, if the procedure is not performed correctly, or if patients do not follow post-operative instructions, implant failure can occur, resulting in long-term negative effects. Here are some of the most common long-term negative effects patients can experience.
If implant screws are not mapped and planned properly through 3D CT scans and are drilled too deeply, nerve damage can occur. This can cause chronic, permanent pain and numbness in your jaw and usually requires that the implant be removed and replaced.
If you receive dental implants in the upper jaw, and your oral surgeon did not plan or map their placement, it could cause sinus problems. Specifically, this is when your implant screw is placed too deep or at the wrong angle, causing it to break into your sinus cavity. This can cause sinusitis, or inflammation of the sinuses. Patients who experience this may experience persistent swelling around their cheeks, forehead, or eyes. Furthermore, this can lead to chronic and serious full-blown sinus infections requiring removal of the implants and antibiotic therapy to eliminate the infection.
Implant rejection means that your body sees your implant screw as a foreign invader, which will trigger an immune response. Symptoms of implant rejection include persistent pain at the location of the implant, as well as fevers and chills. Some patients are just genetically inclined to reject implants, but sometimes rejection is triggered by failure to follow oral hygiene protocols following your dental implant surgery. This can also lead to infection and bone loss at the site requiring antibiotic therapy.
We mentioned earlier that some swelling following dental implant surgery is common. However, persistent or intense swelling is not, and could be a sign of implant rejection or infection. It could also be a sign of a poorly performed procedure or could be a result of not making sure to keep your mouth clean during the week following your surgery.
Gum recession can occur after you receive dental implants if you don’t follow basic oral hygiene. While this is a risk with anyone, whether they have dental implants or not, gum recession can cause implant failure. This is why it’s imperative to regularly brush your teeth, use a mouth rinse, and see a dentist for regular cleanings after you receive dental implants.
Infection is an uncommon complication following dental implant surgery. It can cause implant rejection, and it can also spread to other areas of your body, causing severe health complications. While infection can occur if you don’t follow your oral surgeon’s instructions the first week after surgery, it is usually a result of whoever performed your surgery.
Shaky implants (sometimes called loose or wandering), mean that your implants have not been firmly placed into your jawbone. This could happen immediately if your doctor didn’t place them correctly, or if you didn’t have enough jawbone to support them to begin with. It can also happen later if there is an infection or abnormal swelling.
Shaky implants are a major problem. Permanent prosthetics can’t be placed on shaky implants (they may not even fit if the implants have moved enough). A skilled oral surgeon will be able to minimize this issue.
While you can expect some discomfort when biting or chewing the first few weeks following the surgery, you should not feel any when your permanent prosthetics have been placed. This could be a sign of nerve damage, implant rejection, or sinus issues due to a protruding screw. If you feel discomfort when biting or chewing after your permanent prosthetics have been placed, tell your doctor immediately.
We touched on a few reasons why dental implant failure can occur, but let’s take a closer look at those reasons, and what you can do to prevent them:
Many patients receive dental implants because of failing oral health. They may have severe gum disease, damaged or rotting teeth, or a number of other issues that have caused them to look for a permanent solution. Even after implants are placed, if the state of oral health is too low, it may hinder the osseointegration (or the fusion of implant with jawbone).
An experienced oral surgeon will be able to tell you whether or not you’re a candidate for dental implants based on your oral health.
While dental implants are a permanent solution to missing or failing teeth, they are not a permanent solution to your overall oral health. Patients need to follow strict oral hygiene guidelines following the dental implant surgery, and they need to keep their mouths healthy after the permanent prosthetics have been placed.
Not caring for your teeth after you have dental implants can cause implant failure. Gum recession and jawbone loss, both of which can be prevented by basic habits like brushing your teeth, using a mouth rinse, and seeing a dentist for regular cleanings.
Finally, you can experience dental implant failure if the surgery itself is not successful. Dental implant screws placed too deeply in your lower jaw can cause temporary or permanent nerve damage, while implants placed too deeply in your upper jaw can cause sinusitis. Implants placed in patients that are eligible can cause shaky or wandering implants, which will cause pain and discomfort when biting or chewing.
If you’re worried about the surgery going wrong, there are concrete steps you can take to avoid the more serious complications of dental implant surgery. Essentially most of the serious, long-term, negative effects of dental implant surgery can be avoided by following proper post-op instructions and choosing an experienced doctor, particularly an oral surgeon for your procedure (other titles or certifications (like “implantologist”) carry no real meaning).
Our office only works with oral surgeons who have performed over 5,000 all-on-4 dental implant procedures and over 35,000 individual implants. Going with an experienced oral surgeon can help decrease the likelihood of issues like infection, shaky implants, sinus problems, and nerve damage. Even if you don’t choose our offices, it is extremely important to choose an oral surgeon to perform dental implant surgery.
No, dental implants do not cause health problems. In fact, dental implants end up resolving a number of health problems. For example, dental implants can:
- Stop bone loss in the jaw and can encourage bone growth. The titanium screws placed in your jawbone can encourage bone growth.
- Stop gum recession. If your teeth were causing chronic infections or promoting bacterial growth, removing them and replacing them with dental implants can remove factors that cause gum recession.
- Help improve overall health. If you struggled to eat a nutritious diet because of dietary restrictions due to failing oral health
Rarely do dental implants cause health problems; problems might arise however if you go with inexperienced, unqualified doctors who are not properly trained in dental implant surgery.
The long-term effects of dental implants are overwhelmingly positive. Dental implants are permanent (so you won’t need to have scheduled replacements or refittings), the titanium screws can stimulate bone growth and maintenance in the jaw. There are no food restrictions, and patients will enjoy prosthetics that look and function like normal, healthy teeth for a lifetime.
There are some negative, long-term effects that can occur, but as mentioned, many of these potential issues can be avoided by choosing an oral surgeon, especially one with an expertise in dental implant surgery. That’s why our office exclusively utilizes oral surgeons who have a passion for performing dental implant surgery.
No. Dental implants do not lower life expectancy. In fact, some research has suggested that they will extend your life expectancy, since there’s a correlation between living longer and having a full set of normal, healthy teeth to eat a healthy diet.
Yes! Dental implants are one of the best options for patients looking to restore normal, healthy function to their teeth and mouth. Dental implants are non-intrusive, so they won’t interfere with your speech. There are no dietary restrictions to follow with dental implants, and implants look like natural teeth. Furthermore, it is a self-esteem and confidence booster to have a full set of healthy and functional teeth.