Treating Dental Implant Failure

Unfortunately, dental implant failure is a common occurrence. A sizeable proportion of Dr. Chal’s practice is dedicated to treating failed cases from other dentists.

This isn’t to criticize any particular dentist. Even when proper procedures are followed, things can go wrong. When you’re dealing with the human body, it isn’t possible to have 100% predictable outcomes. But when treatment standards are compromised, it invites difficulty.

If you are suffering from dental implant failure, consider seeing Dr. Chal. Even if you are in another state, when you add the amount of money you may have wasted already on unsuccessful treatment, and add that to the cost of what you might spend in the future if your treatment isn’t done correctly, a couple hundred dollars for a plane ticket isn’t that much more, and you will have the assurance that your treatment will be done correctly this time. Many people fly in to Phoenix to see Dr. Chal from other states, and his office can help you with accommodations.

Dr. Chal has yet to see a case of dental implant failure that he has not been able to rescue. See some of the examples given in this website. In fact, the lead story on the home page is a dental implant failure case where the patient, Brenda, flew in to see him from out of state.

The Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale typically sends him facial collapse and dental implant failure cases, knowing that there is no one better, with more experience in treating these. Please see the about Dr. Chal page and his best dentist awards page for more information about his reputation and credentials.

Types of Dental Implant Failure

These cases can be placed into four main categories:

This is a loose screw that Dr. Chal removed from a patient. She had a substandard fixture, the screw had become loose, and this allowed  an opening for infection.

This is a loose screw that Dr. Chal removed from a patient. She had a substandard fixture, the screw
had become loose, and this allowed
an opening for infection.

  • Infection – If there are poorly fitted fixtures or improper techniques used, persistent infection can be the result.
  • Loose implants – With substandard fixtures, or if the implants are placed under load prematurely, or if they are placed in bone that isn’t solid enough, they can become loose.
  • Nerve impairment – Without the use of three-dimensional radiographic techniques, it is easy to place fixtures in positions where they impinge on nerves that run through the jaw. This can result in persistent numbness, tingling, or pain.
  • Puncture of other body cavities – We have found implants that have perforated sinuses, the mandibular lingual space, and even the nose. Needless to say, this causes discomfort and other problems.

Causes of Dental Implant Failure

Some failure happens despite the best efforts of the dentist and the patient. But some is a result of the natural tendency of both dentists and patients to look for the shortcut, the cheaper solution, the easy road. Here are some of the causes:

Shortcutting the diagnostic phase – Most dentists are trying to place dental implants with only a two-dimensional panographic x-ray. While a panographic x-ray is adequate for most dental surgery, it isn’t enough for properly placing implants. The amount and quality of bone available to support the implant, and the exact position of nerves and blood vessels that run through the bone, and the shape of nasal sinuses and other anatomic structures are three-dimensional questions. Dr. Chal believes that only carefully done CT scans, analyzed by a specialist in maxillofacial radiography, provide the level of information needed for these demanding procedures. These 3-D CT scans take less than three minutes to take, and the radiation exposure to the patient is less than 3% of the radiation received during a medical CT scan. Dr. Chal then has the computer provide printouts of one-millimeter cross-sections of the jaws showing the exact locations of blood vessels and nerves and the thickness and quality of bone.

Inadequate medical history – There are many medical conditions that affect the success of dental implant treatment. Again, thoroughness and care by the dentist here can prevent dental implant failure later.

Inadequate dental implant fixtures – There are over two hundred companies that manufacture these fixtures, but only six of them have published juried research with test results documenting the quality of those fixtures. Research is expensive, and some dentists are attracted to the companies that have cut costs and offer cheaper fixtures. The cost of a substandard fixture can be as little as one-one hundredth of the cost of a carefully manufactured, precision-engineered, and fully tested fixture, so this can be a powerful temptation for some dentists. But those shortcuts can come back to haunt the patient long after treatment is completed. The photograph above illustrates one way a cheap fixture can lead to dental implant failure. For more information, please see our page warning about cheap dental implants.

Incorrect dental implant placement - This could be tied to an inadequate diagnosis, because it’s during the diagnostic phase that the decision is made where to place the implant. It could also be a lack of communication between the restorative dentist and the surgeon. Read about one dental implant mistake of this type where Dr. Chal interceded and prevented a worse catastrophe. And you may be interested in reading about a painful and expensive case of incorrect dental implant placement that required corrective surgery.