Bad Dental Implants: Causes, Risks, And How to Prevent Them

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Bad dental implants is something we should all want to avoid, for multiple reasons. But what causes dental implants to go wrong, and what can you do to safeguard yourself as much as possible against the agony of dental implant failure? 

In this article, we are going to cover the most common dental implant complicaitons, the factors that put you at heightened risk of delta implant failure, and the pro-active steps you can take to ensure the best possible implant dentistry experience and outcome.

After all, choosing a reputable oral surgeon to carry out the procedure is only part of the equation. There are so many additional factors that play in, and that you can control – as well as a few that you absolutely cannot. The best way for you to ensure a successful healing process is to be aware of what you can do to usher the healing along and hopefully avoiding the potential pitfalls of bacterial infection, periodontal disease and anything else that could lead to a loose implant or even complete implant failure. 

Factors that put you at risk of dental implant failure

First of all, it is a common misconception to think that dental implant failure is commonplace. In fact, according to the American Dental Association, the failure rate for dental implants is extremely low – only about 2-3%. This makes dental implant surgery one of the safest and most effective oral surgeries available. 

In other good news, out of the the tiny percentage of dental implants that fail, many can be prevented if the patient follows the advice of dental professionals in terms of practicing excellent oral hygiene, particularly around the implant site while the implant is still healing.

Bad oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is to blame for the vast majority of all dental and oral complications the world over, and dental implant failure is no exception.

Dental implant surgery might be considered an invasive procedure as it involves the dental surgeon inserting one or several metal posts into your gums and all the way into the jawbone. While the implant is healing, one of the greatest risks to contend with is the possibility of the fresh would getting infected.

Infection comes from bacteria, which is why it is extremely important to practice good oral hygiene, especially around the surgery site. 

Low jaw bone density

Low jaw bone density can sometimes be the reason why your dental implant fails. The reason for this is pretty clear: The metal post that the replacement tooth is attached to has to fuse to the jawbone. If there isn’t enough bone density there, the implant may come loose or it may simply not take in the first place.

Low jaw bone density is one of those factors that are beyond your control. A combination of genetics and sometimes previous health conditions may mean that you simply do not have a lot of bone there, or that you have suffered bone loss. In some cases, bone grafting prior to getting implants can be a good way of preempting the possibility of implant failure due to a lack of jaw bone.

Dental trauma

Another common cause of dental implant complications and failure is dental trauma. Dental trauma is blunt force trauma that impacts your jaw and your teeth. If you have a freshly installed implant, the likelihood of it getting knocked loose or knocked out as as result of direct impact is very high.

This shouldn’t have to be said, but avoid all contact sports, not to mention physical altercations while your new dental implant is healing.

Teeth grinding

Putting a lot of pressure on a newly installed dental implant is never a good idea, which is why teeth grinding can be a contributing factor or even a direct cause of dental implant failure. 

Unfortunately, many people grind their teeth in their sleep and are unable to control this consciously. The best preventative measure you can take if you know that you tend to grind your teeth at night is to get a night mouthguard to wear when you are sleeping. Not only will a mouthguard prevent you from biting down hard on your new implant and potentially cause it to become inflamed or loosened, it will also protect the rest of your teeth from the excessive wear and tear of nighttime bruxism. 

Having an allergic reaction

In very rare cases, dental patients might have an allergic reaction to the titanium that the tooth replacement is attached to.

The symptoms of allergy to watch out for include hives, eczema and swelling of the gums and other soft tissues surrounding the newly installed implant.

An inexperienced surgeon

We all have to start somewhere, but when it comes to trusting an oral surgeon with something as important as installing a dental implants in your mouth, you should always go with the most experienced professional you can find and afford.

It is an unfortunate fact that, in some cases, things can go wrong during the implant procedure, and to minimise the risk of nerve or tissue damage as well as the potential for complete implant failure, pick a highly experienced surgeon, even if he or she charges more for the same procedure. In the long run, going with a more expensive surgeon may even save you money, as a failed dental implant may require another costly implant removal procedure that you had not anticipated or budgeted for.

How to care for your dental implants

Now that you are aware of the most common causes of dental implant failure, it is time for us to look into how you can best take care of your dental implants so that they heal successfully and without any long-term complications long after the dental implant procedure has taken place. 

Practice good oral hygiene

As already mentioned, poor dental hygiene is the root of most evils when it comes to your oral health. This is also true for dental implants, both during their healing period and afterwards.

A dental implant is an artificial tooth, but the way to look after it is exactly the same as the way in which you look after the rest of your natural teeth. The best oral hygiene routine involves brushing and flossing between your teeth twice a day, for a minimum of 2 minutes each time. Always use a fluoridated toothpaste followed by a fluoridated mouthwash. 

When plaque and food particles are left to build up in your mouth, they secrete bacteria that attacks the enamel of your teeth, as well as your gums. You cannot avoid plaque buildups or getting particles of food stuck between your teeth, but as long as you clean them out on a regular basis, they don’t have the opportunity to cause decay or gum disease.

Tooth decay is, of course, a negative that should be avoided, but in terms of looking after your dental implants taking great care of your gums is extremely important. Gum problems that may arise as a result of poor oral hygiene include receding gum tissue and gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Gum problems like these can cause the titanium screw holding each artificial tooth securely in place to loosen or even fall out of your mouth.

Avoid hard and chewy foods

Another practical thing y0u can do if you want to take great care of your dental implants (And other dental work, for that matter) is to avoid certain foods that might be either abrasive or pull at the implant. 

The foods to avoid are all hard and chewy foods. This includes hard candies, popcorn, hard meats and toffee.

Realistically, avoiding all hard and chewy foods forever isn’t possible, so what you can do instead is to be mindful of how you eat them. Let us say, for example, that you have a couple of implants in the left side of your mouth. If you want to be smart about it, simply chew your favorite toffee in the right side of your mouth instead.

Have dentist check-ups every six months

If you want to do what is best for your implants – not to mention the rest of your teeth – never skip having dental exams twice a year.

Scheduling and attending regular dental exams ensures that your dentist gets a chance to spot any impending problem with your dental implants, teeth or gums.

Foreign body rejection and dental implant infection signs to watch out for

Regardless of the cause of your dental implant failing, the symptoms are always exactly the same.

Persistent pain

The most noticeable tell-tale sign of an impending dental implant failure is persistent pain at the site of the titanium screw holding the implant in place.

Experiencing a small degree of pain or discomfort in the days and even the first few weeks following your dental implant surgery is perfectly normal, but if the pain persists, grows in intensity rather than fades, or if pain suddenly sets in long after the dental implant has healed, take it as a sign hat something is wrong.

Swollen or inflamed gums

Swelling of the gums and other soft tissues surrounding your dental implant could be an indication that the implant is failing or has gotten infected

Loose implant

If your implant is loose and you are able to rock it back and forth with your finger, this is a clear indication that your implant is failing.

What to do if your dental implant is failing

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, don’t delay contacting your dentist to set up an emergency appointment. 

Only your dentist can assess the situation and termite exactly what is going on with your implant. In some cases, if gum disease or inflammation around the implant site is treated in time before it fully develops, it may be possible to save your implant.

In some cases, the implant cannot be saved, in which case your dentist may have to remove it and address the underlying dental health problem before a new implant can be inserted into the gum line and the jaw bone underneath.

Bad dental implants FAQ

Can a failed dental implant be replaced?

Yes, but not right away.

If your dentist has had to remove a dental implant from your mouth due to gum infection or bone loss, he or she is undoubtedly going to recommend treating the underlying problem before a new implant can be installed.

In some cases, you may need a bone graft or gum graft before a new dental implant can be installed, as a successful implant procedure requires healthy gums and sufficient jaw bone density to insert the titanium screw.

Why dental implants are bad?

Dental implants can go bad for multiple reasons. 

Having other dental health conditions is one of the primary things that may interfere with a successful dental implant procedure. So if, for example, you suffer from gum disease or or any other medical conditions affecting your gums or jaw bone, these will have to be addressed first.

Poor oral hygiene is another leading cause of dental implant failures. 

How common is dental implant failure?

Despite the apprehension some patients may feel at the prospect of getting dental implant surgery, the failure rate is extremely low at 2-3%. In other words, dental implant surgery is one of the safest dental procedure you can possibly have.


Fortunately, dental implant surgery is a very safe and reliable procedure that has been performed since the mid 1960s. The failure rate of dental implant procedures is extremely low – the American Dental Association estimates that only 2-3% of implants fail, and when they do, it is often due to poor oral hygiene on the part of the patient.

Having said that, there are some dental implant complications that are beyond the patient’s control. A few of them include dental trauma and having an allergic reaction to the implant.

But while you cannot control everything, there is a lot you can personally do to take charge of how well your dental implant heals, and whether or not it lasts. Staying on top of your oral hygiene is the most important thing. Avoiding hard and chewy foods, and attending your regular dental exams every six months are also important.

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.