Unfortunately, we are seeing a lot of dental implant failure in patients. This is a new and highly specialized field in dentistry, and there are no laws in effect yet recognizing it as an official specialty area. This means that it is legal for dentists to place implants without proper training. And the consequence of improper dental implant treatment can be quite serious, leading to puncturing of sinus cavities, severing or paresthesia of critical nerves, and chronic infection. Dental implantology is the fastest growing field of dental malpractice suits.
Causes of Dental Implant Failure
Here are some of the things that can go wrong:
Loose dental implants
A dental implant consists of two parts. There is a root form that is placed in the jawbone. After placement, there is a process called osseointegration in which the bone grows around the root form and firmly stabilizes it so it can support a tooth or teeth. If this root form is restored prematurely, it increases the risk of it later becoming loose and failing.
Improper placement of the root forms can also leave them in positions of too much stress, which will result in loosening later on. And a loose dental implant can become infected, and will eventually fall out, requiring costly rehabilitative surgery.
The reason many patients need dental implants is because they lose their teeth to periodontal disease. Some dentists have the idea that they can save time by placing the root form into the fresh extraction socket right after these diseased teeth are removed. But this socket is heavily populated with pathogenic bacteria that will then reinfect the root form.
There are other causes of infection. Loose or poorly fitting implant fixtures can leave spaces for bacterial invasion. This can happen when the dentist tries to save money by using cheaper fixtures. Brand name fixtures can cost hundreds of dollars more per fixture, but they are manufactured to high standards and fit perfectly. Generic fixtures can come loose more easily and can be prone to infection.
Improper Placement of Dental Implants
When dentists shortcut the diagnostic procedures, they may try to place the root forms only guided by panographic x-rays. Three-dimensional CAT scans are required to know the position of all relevant anatomical structures before surgery. Unfortunately, we are seeing dental implants placed in nerve canals, sinuses, and lingual bone concavities. This can result in numbness from nerve impairment, infection, or loosening of the root forms under function.
Avoiding Dental Implant Failure
There are two main ways to help you avoid being a victim of dental implant failure:
First, beware of dentists offering the lowest fees for dental implant treatment. Because price-shopping is common among prospective patients, it’s a strong temptation for dentists to try to have the lowest fees, and they accomplish this by cutting corners in treatment, using cheap, ill-fitting fixtures, and not investing in proper training. Their patients come in, receive their implants, and leave happy. But then five or ten years down the road, when they may have even forgotten the name of the implant dentist, the problems start to surface.
Second, check your dentist’s credentials. Many dentists offering dental implants treatments have no special credentials. Dr. Thein, however, has pursued board certification to provide an assurance to his patients that he is providing quality care. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology and a Diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. If a dentist has shortcut his or her training in implantology, it may be an indication that they will shortcut treatment.