Dental Implant Infection

One of the prime causes of dental implant failure is infection.

Infection occurs at the site where the implant fixture attaches to the bone. It can be characterized by redness in the surrounding tissue, soreness, looseness, or an unpleasant taste or smell coming from the site.

Causes of dental implant infection

There are several possible causes to be aware of:

  • The crown on the dental implant can be oversized, or can otherwise have an unhealthy contour. This seems like a simple matter, but if the crown presses too much on the tissue, it isn’t healthy and can lead to inflammation and then infection. Many dentists, in an attempt to contain the high costs of implant fixtures, will use “one-size-fits-all” abutments. This can save them several hundred dollars in costs, but it can also lead to this type of inflammation and infection that develops after the patient completes treatment. Dr. Chal has each abutment custom-made to fit each individual patient.
  • Sometimes there can be a slight infection right after the surgery, because of bacteria that enter the surgical site. If we are dealing with ordinary oral bacteria. this can often be resolved simply with antibiotics, and won’t pose any long-term risk. Some surgeons routinely administer antibiotics before and/or after the surgery to deal with this routine contamination.
  • If substandard fixtures are used, because they may not have a precision fit, screws can become loose or gaps can occur, and these will attract bacteria. Because of the great difference in cost between substandard fixtures and precision-fitting ones, the temptation is great for dentists to cut costs here. But the long-term effects for the patient can be serious. For more information on this, please see our page on dental implant costs and quality.
  • When you have a loose dental implant, there can often be infection around it. The primary problem, however, is that it is loose. Resolving the infection will not solve the fundamental problem. The implant may need to be replaced.
  • A loose screw that caused a dental implant infection.

PPT-Loose-ScrewHere is an example of a screw that helped cause a dental implant infection. Dr. Chal removed this from a patient named Brenda. The fixture was not a name-brand, and the screw was not precision-fitting like the ones Dr. Chal uses. Thus, it attracted deposits and bacteria.

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

Many people have the idea that antibiotics alone can treat this. But without treating the cause of the infection, the use of antibiotics alone is often harmful, because they breed bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotic being used. The source of the infection needs to be eliminated.

So if the problem is a loose implant, or improperly fitting implant parts that are attracting bacteria, the offending fixtures need to be replaced. Once a fixture becomes mobile, removal is generally the only option for treatment.

Sometimes, proper dental implant maintenance is all that is required. They need to be cleaned regularly, just as teeth need to be cleaned.

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