Dental Implant Infection

Infection is one of the most common causes of dental implant failure. Dental implant infection begins at the site where the dental implant fixture is anchored to the bone. These infections often become evident due to loose implants, pain, or redness in the surrounding tissue. Patients may also notice an unpleasant smell or taste coming from the infected area.

Causes of dental implant infection

There are several possible causes to be aware of:

  • In an effort to cut costs, some dentists may use “one-size-fits-all” abutments. Unfortunately, with ill-fitting crowns, patients may be subjected to inflammation and infection caused by an oversized or improperly contoured crown pressing on the tissue. To avoid this type of infection, Dr. Chal uses customized abutments, designed specifically for each individual patient.
  • Some patients may experience a small infection that occurs shortly after their surgery. This is typically due to ordinary oral bacteria entering the surgical site and causing an infection. These infections can usually be avoided through the use of antibiotics before and/or after surgery. If preventive measures are not taken, antibiotics can still be used to treat these infections, which should not pose any long-term risk.
  • When cheaply-made fixtures are used in dental implant procedures, there is a higher risk for gaps to occur and for screws to become loose. These failures can attract bacteria, leading to infection. Although substandard fixtures cost significantly less than precision-made fixtures, the resulting negative effects can have a serious, long-term impact a patient. For more information on this, please see our page on dental implant costs and quality.
  • Loose dental implants often have infections around them. However, treating the infection typically does not resolve the looseness of the implant. In most cases, a loose implant must be removed and replaced in order to prevent further issues.
  • Dental implant infections can also often be caused by a loose screw, as seen here:

PPT-Loose-ScrewHere is an example of a screw that ultimately led to a dental implant infection for a patient named Brenda. Dr. Chal was able to remove the screw, and found that Brenda’s previous dentist had used substandard fixtures and ill-fitting screws in her treatment. The loose screw provided an attractive home for deposits and bacteria, leading to infection. Dr. Chal avoids these types of situations by using only high-quality, precision-made dental implant fixtures and screws.

To read more, see the page about Brenda’s dental implant story.

Antibiotics alone cannot treat these infections – the source of the infection itself must be eliminated. Treating these infections with antibiotics alone can potentially lead to breeding bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotic being used.

For issues such as a loose implant or improperly fitting implant parts that are attracting bacteria, the best solution is to remove and replace the offending fixtures. Removal is generally the only option for treating infections related to a fixture that has become mobile. However, in some cases, proper dental implant maintenance is all that is required. Remember, dental implants look and act like natural teeth – and they need to be cleaned regularly, the same way natural teeth do!

You also may be interested in seeing Dr. Chal’s dramatic implant success stories.