What factors impact dental implant success?

What factors impact dental implant success?

Dental implants are generally regarded as the best solution to replace missing teeth. They look completely natural, they last for decades, and they are much stronger and supportive of good oral health than alternative replacement options. However, while the vast majority of dental patients have successful implant surgeries and long-term results, about 5-10% of dental implants fail. Here are some of the factors that can impact the success of a dental implant:

Insufficient jawbone density

One reason dental implants are such a superior option for tooth replacement is that the titanium screw implanted in the jawbone prevents the bone from deteriorating over time. If you have had a missing tooth for a while, the jawbone might have already lost density and could be insufficient to support an implant. Other conditions, such as osteoporosis, can also affect jawbone density. Without enough support, the implant will not fuse to the jawbone and the implant will fail. Some patients with insufficient jawbone density can ensure implant success by undergoing a bone graft procedure first.

Untreated gum disease

Gum disease is an infection that primarily damages the gums, but if left untreated, it can also damage the jawbone beneath and cause the bone material to deteriorate. The infection can spread from the gums to a newly-placed dental implant and prevent the implant-bone fusion process (called osseointegration). As such, even patients who have signs of early gum disease will have to be treated before the dental implant procedure can proceed.

Medical conditions and medications

The key to dental implant success is successful osseointegration, but certain medical conditions and medications can hinder the process. Autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis cause the body to heal at a slower rate, which can impede osseointegration. Certain medications can have the same effect, including heartburn medications and antidepressants. 

Smoking tobacco

Smoking tobacco restricts blood flow to the gums, interfering with the healing process after implant surgery. While the average dental implant failure rate is around 5-10%, the failure rate for regular smokers is closer to 20%. If you smoke tobacco, you will need to stop smoking one week before the dental implant procedure, and you should avoid smoking for at least two months after the surgery to ensure proper healing.

Failure to follow instructions

Keeping your teeth healthy and clean after dental implant surgery is crucial for ensuring a successful implant. It’s also important to follow specific post-surgery instructions regarding what you can or should not eat during the healing period. Failure to follow those instructions can lead to early implant failure, so it’s important to maintain a good oral health routine, and eat a calcium-rich diet to support the bone fusion process.

Other factors that can lead to implant failure

In rare cases, patients can have an allergic reaction to the titanium screw, which prevents it from fusing to the jawbone. In more common cases, an infection can develop after surgery that interferes with osseointegration. Other less common but possible factors that can lead to implant failure include:

  • Temporary crown stress on the implant that causes micro-movements
  • Foreign body rejection, causing swelling, fever and chills
  • Nerve or tissue damage during surgery caused by an inexperienced surgeon
  • Injury to the area surrounding the implant during the fusion process

Dental implants in San Diego

If you are considering dental implants to replace one or more missing teeth, it’s important to work with an experienced dental professional who understands the potential risks and factors that can lead to failure. At University Dental, we’re committed to patient education and to working in close partnership with you throughout the whole implant process to improve your chances of success. For more information about the dental implant procedure or to schedule a consultation, call University Dental at (619) 473-2565.