By: Dr. Lahiru Chandraweera

February 02, 2023

How to Avoid Dental Implant Failure: Factors You Need to Look Out For

Dental implants are a viable treatment option for people who lost their teeth due to injury, decay, or other reasons. They have revolutionised modern dentistry by providing a durable and natural-looking teeth replacement option.

Dental implants are made of titanium posts that are surgically implanted into the jaw bone. Once the metal implant post has fused with the bone, it provides a stable base for replacement teeth. They also stimulate bone growth and promote good bone health.

Despite the numerous benefits of dental implants, there is always a risk of failure. While the failure rate for dental implants is low, it’s important to take preventive measures to reduce failure risk. Failure can be due to poor oral hygiene, smoking, medical conditions, and more.

In this blog post, we will discuss the key factors you need to look out for to avoid dental implant failure and ensure a successful outcome. Whether you are considering dental implants or have already undergone the procedure, this guide will provide valuable insights to help you maintain your oral health and prolong the lifespan of your dental implants.

Summary of the Content

Dental implants are a popular way to replace missing teeth.

Despite their high success rate, dental implants can still fail for various reasons.

Infection, periodontal disease, implant mobility, and bone loss are some causes of implant failure.

Regular dental checkups and proper oral hygiene can help reduce the risk of implant failure.

Before undergoing dental implant surgery, a comprehensive dental exam is essential to evaluate a patient’s oral health and determine suitability for the procedure.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a failed implant is important, and early intervention is key to preventing further complications.

Patients should avoid smoking, maintain a healthy diet, and avoid grinding or clenching their teeth to prevent implant damage.

Understanding Dental Implant Failure: Causes and Symptoms

Dental implants provide a natural-looking, stable, and long-lasting option to replace missing teeth. They help improve oral health and quality of life. However, a failed dental implant can occur for various reasons, leading to implant removal or replacement.

Some causes of dental implant failure include the following:


An implant infection occurs when bacteria invade the implant site. This leads to inflammation and bone loss. The following can increase the risk of implant infection:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking
  • Underlying health conditions

The signs and symptoms of an infection are:

  • Redness and swelling at the implant site
  • Fever
  • Discharge from the implant site
  • Pain or tenderness when biting or chewing

Active Gum Disease

Peri-implant disease is a type of gum disease affecting the gums and bone surrounding a dental implant. It can cause inflammation and pain, ultimately leading to bone loss around the area of the implant. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Red, swollen, and tender gums
  • Bleeding from brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Receding gum lines
  • Shifting implant and teeth

Any form of gum disease should be managed and controlled first before getting dental implants.

Implant mobility

This happens when the implant becomes loose and moveable. This can result from the following:

  • Improper placement of the implant
  • Bone loss around the implant
  • Implant fracture due to excessive force or improper implant placement
  • Mechanical failure of the implant-abutment connection
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Gum recession
  • Smoking

Symptoms of a loose implant include:

  • A sensation of the implant moving
  • Pain when biting and chewing
  • Changes in the fit of the dental crown

Bone loss

This can happen due to infection, trauma, or excessive pressure on the implant. Bone loss can weaken the implant’s foundation, causing implant failure.

Signs and symptoms of bone loss are:

  • The recession of the gum tissue around the implant
  • A visible space between the gum tissue and implant crown
  • Pain when biting and chewing

Regular dental checkups and proper oral hygiene practices can help reduce the risk of implant failure. These also help maintain good oral health.

Pre-Implant Consultation: The Importance of a Comprehensive Dental Exam

Before undergoing dental implant surgery, a comprehensive dental exam is important. This will:

  • Allow the dentist to evaluate your oral health.
  • Determine if you’re a suitable candidate for the surgical procedure.
  • Help identify any underlying oral health issues that may affect the success of the implant surgery.

Diagnostic Exams

During the pre-implant consultation process, your dentist will examine your teeth, gums, and jaw bone. They will also inquire about your dental and medical history and take diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays or CBCT.

Imaging studies are necessary to assess the amount and quality of your jawbone. These will determine if you have adequate bone tissue to support the implant. If not, your dentist may recommend bone grafting or a sinus lift to supplement the existing bone.

Treatment Planning

The consultation process will also involve treatment planning. Your dentist will discuss the implant procedure, its benefits and risks, and the potential outcomes. You can ask questions and discuss any concerns with your implant dentist.

Your dentist will explain the entire process, including:

  • The steps involved in the implant placement procedure
  • The timeline for the dental procedure
  • What you can expect during the recovery period

Customised Treatment Plan

If your dentist determines that you’re a suitable candidate for dental implants, they will develop a personalised treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. This plan will include:

  • The type of implant
  • The number of implants needed
  • The duration of the implant treatment
  • The cost of the dental treatment

What are the Signs of a Failing Dental Implant?

Despite the high success rate associated with dental implants, implant failure can still occur. This may be due to various reasons, including poor oral hygiene routine, bacterial infection, and overloading.

Here are some signs of a failing dental implant:

  • Changes in Bite:
    If you notice any changes in your bite, such as difficulty biting down or discomfort when biting, it could be a sign of a failed dental implant. Changes in a person’s bite can occur due to implant mobility or bone loss around the implant.

  • Difficulty Chewing:
    Implant failure can weaken the implant’s foundation. This can cause discomfort or difficulty in chewing.

  • Implant Loosening:
    If your implant is loose or wobbly, it could be a sign of implant failure. Implant loosening can occur due to poor dental implant placement or bone loss around the implant.

  • Pain or Discomfort:
    Severe pain or discomfort around the implant site could indicate implant failure. Pain can occur due to the implant being loose or if there is an infection.

  • Swelling or Inflammation:
    Swelling or inflammation around the implant site indicates an infection. It may also be due to implant overload.

Any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above may indicate impaired dental implants. If you’re experiencing any of these, contact an experienced dentist immediately. Early intervention can prevent further complications. It also increases the chances of saving the implant.

How Common is Dental Implant Failure?

According to a study published in the International Journal of Dentistry, dental implant failure is relatively rare. Its success rates range from 90-95% over a 10-year period with a long-term failure rate of 5-10%.

The study cites several sources and notes that many factors can increase the risk of implant failure, including the following:

  • Poor oral and dental hygiene
  • Insufficient bone density or quality
  • Smoking
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis

Implant design, surface characteristics, and surgical technique can also contribute to a failed dental implant.

Here are other important facts found in the study:

  • The overall success rate of dental implants is high.
  • Early implant failures (within the first six months) are less common than late implant failures.
  • Late implant failures are usually due to peri-implantitis. It is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard tissues around the implant.
  • The type of implant surface can also affect implant success rates. Rough surfaces show better osseointegration than smooth surfaces.

Proper Oral Hygiene Practices: Maintaining Good Oral Health After Implant Surgery

Proper oral hygiene practices are important in maintaining good dental health after implant surgery.

The gums and soft tissues around the implant can become inflamed and infected if proper oral hygiene is not followed. This can lead to impaired dental implants with further complications.

Here are some tips on proper care of implants:

  1. Brush and floss regularly:
    Brush at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. This can help remove plaque and bacteria from the surface of the teeth and implants. Flossing at least once a day can help remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth and implants. An antibacterial rinse would also help.

  2. Use an interdental brush:
    This can help clean around the implants. Interdental brushes are small, narrow brushes designed to fit between teeth and the metal post. They help remove plaque and bacteria that cannot be reached with a regular toothbrush.

  3. Avoid hard or sticky foods:
    These foods can damage the implant or cause it to become loose. Stick to soft foods, instead. Chewing on hard objects such as ice, pens, or pencils should also be avoided.

  4. Regular visits to the dentist:
    Dental checkups and professional cleanings are also important. This will allow the dentist to check the implant and surrounding tissues and identify potential issues early. This will also help prevent further complications.

Avoiding Physical Trauma: Preventing Damage to Implants

The oral cavity is vulnerable to physical trauma, which can harm both natural teeth and dental implants, potentially leading to implant failure. Excessive force can cause the artificial tooth to become loose or dislodge from the bone and also damage adjacent teeth. Furthermore, trauma can result in tissue damage to the gums and bone, further compromising the stability of the implant.

Some common causes of physical trauma to dental implants include:

  • Accidents or falls
  • Biting down on hard or crunchy foods
  • Chewing on objects such as pencils or ice
  • Sports injuries

You must take certain precautions to prevent physical trauma to dental implants. Some strategies for preventing physical trauma include the following:

  • Avoiding hard or crunchy foods:
    Frequent consumption of hard or crunchy foods can damage dental implants. Examples are hard candy, popcorn, and ice. Avoid these foods or cut them into smaller pieces before consuming them.

  • Chewing carefully:
    Chewing on hard objects, like pencils or pens, can damage teeth implants. Avoid chewing on non-food objects and avoid chewy foods altogether. Also, remember to chew food slowly and carefully.

  • Wearing a mouthguard during sports:
    Mouthguards can help protect teeth and dental implants during sports activities. Mouthguards can be custom-made by a dentist to fit your mouth and provide maximum protection.

Dental Implant Materials: The Impact of Implant Type and Quality on Long-term Success

Dental implants are made from various materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common types of dental implant materials are:


Titanium alloy is the most commonly used material for dental implants, and they have been used successfully for over 30 years. Titanium implants are strong, durable, resistant to corrosion and biocompatible, meaning they are not harmful to the body and can fuse with bone tissue through osseointegration process.


Zirconia implants are a newer type of implant material. It is gaining popularity due to its tooth-coloured appearance and biocompatibility. Zirconia is a type of ceramic that is very strong and durable, making it a favourable option for dental implants. However, they do not last as long as titanium implants.


Ceramic implants are also a newer type of implant material. Like titanium and zirconia, ceramic is also biocompatible and has a tooth-coloured appearance. However, ceramic implants are not as strong as titanium or zirconia implants. They are more prone to cracking or breaking.

The success of a dental implant depends on several factors, including:

  • The quality of the implant material
  • The skill of the dentist placing the implant
  • The patient’s overall oral health

The use of high-quality implant materials is crucial in minimising the possibility of implant failure. It can also help in making the implant last for a long time.

When selecting a dental implant, patients should look for the following:

  • A reputable brand:
    Ensure that your dentist is using an implant system from a reliable brand. Look for implants that have been tested and approved by regulatory agencies such as the FDA.

  • The right material for the job:
    Patients should discuss with their dentist which implant material will work for them.

  • The right size:
    The dentist will take measurements so that the implant is the correct size and shape for the patient’s mouth.

Post-Surgery Care: The Role of Medications, Ice Packs, and Rest in Healing

Post-surgery care is a critical component of a successful implant recovery process. Patients can expect to experience the following days after surgery:

  • Mild pain or discomfort
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding

Fortunately, several strategies can help manage symptoms and promote healing. These include the following:


Medications are prescribed after surgery to help manage pain and inflammation.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce swelling and relieve pain. Stronger pain medications, such as opioids, may be prescribed for more severe pain. Your dentist will also prescribe oral antibiotics to prevent infection.

Patients should follow their doctor’s instructions carefully when taking medications. It’s also important to be aware of potential side effects.

Ice Packs

Ice packs can be used to help reduce swelling and pain after surgery. Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 20 minutes at a time, several times per day. This can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing. However, patients should avoid placing the ice pack directly on the skin, as this can cause frostbite.


Rest is another important component of post-surgery care. Patients should avoid strenuous physical activity or exercise for several days after surgery. Also, avoid smoking, as this can interfere with the healing process.

Patients should follow the dentist’s instructions carefully regarding diet, oral hygiene habits, and other post-surgery restrictions.

Lifestyle Changes: How Lifestyle Choices Can Affect Implant Success

Lifestyle choices such as exercise, stress management, and smoking can have an impact on the success of dental implants. Here are lifestyle factors that can affect implant success:


Regular exercise can help promote overall health and well-being. This, in turn, can help support implant success. Exercise can help improve circulation, aiding in healing and reducing the risk of infection. However, avoiding strenuous exercise for the first few days after surgery is important. This is to prevent bleeding, which usually occurs when the heart rate increases due to exercising.


Smoking and tobacco products can interfere with the body’s ability to heal and increase the risk of implant failure. Nicotine can constrict blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the implant site and slowing down the healing process.

Smokers should quit smoking at least two weeks before implant surgery. They should also avoid smoking during the healing period.

Stress management

Stress can negatively impact the body’s immune system. It can compromise an otherwise successful procedure.

High levels of stress can lead to grinding or clenching of teeth. These actions put pressure on the implant and increase the risk of implant failure.

Strategies for managing stress can include:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Yoga
  • Other relaxation techniques

To promote a healthy lifestyle and minimise the impact of stress on implant success, patients should:

  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Get regular exercise, but avoid strenuous exercise immediately after implant surgery.
  • Get enough sleep and practice good sleep hygiene.
  • Practice stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption.

Incorporating healthy lifestyle habits is crucial for enhancing overall health and promoting the success of dental implants. Your dentist can develop a personalized treatment plan that takes into account your individual lifestyle to ensure optimal results.

Managing Medical Conditions: How Diabetes and Other Health Issues Can Affect Implant Success

Effective management of medical conditions, such as diabetes, can be essential to ensuring the success of dental implant procedures. Diabetes and other health issues can negatively impact implant success, leading to potential long-term complications and implant failure.


High blood sugar levels can slow down the healing process. It can also increase the risk of complications which can impact implant success.

Diabetic patients should work with their doctor to manage their blood sugar levels. It should be under control before undergoing implant surgery.

Other health issues

Autoimmune diseases, cancer, and certain medications can also impact implant success. Patients with these conditions should work closely with their doctor and dentist to manage their condition. They will develop a treatment plan that considers their conditions.

Strategies for managing these conditions and minimising their impact on implant success include:

  • Managing blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication for patients with diabetes
  • Quitting smoking at least two weeks before implant surgery. It is advisable to refrain from smoking during the healing period.
  • Working closely with a medical team for careful planning on managing other health issues that may impact implant success

Following these strategies can help minimise the impact of these medical conditions on implant success. Patients should discuss their medical concerns with their dentist before undergoing implant surgery.

Follow-up Appointments: Why Regular Checkups are Crucial for Implant Success

Regular follow-up appointments after implant surgery are crucial for the long-term success of dental implants. These appointments allow the dentist to monitor the healing process and identify any potential issues before they become more serious.

During follow-up appointments, patients can expect a range of services, including:

  1. Checkups:
    The dentist will examine the implant and surrounding tissues. They will check if everything is healing properly. They may also check the fit and function of the dental prosthesis, such as crowns, dental bridges or dentures, attached to the implant.

  2. Cleanings:
    Regular cleanings are important to prevent plaque and bacteria buildup around the implant site. The dentist will use specialised tools to clean the area around the implant to keep the surrounding tissues healthy.

  3. Diagnostic imaging:
    The dentist may take x-rays or other diagnostic images to monitor the health of the implant and surrounding tissues. This can help identify any potential issues before they become more serious.

During these appointments, the dentist may also provide guidance on how to properly care for the implant and surrounding tissues at home. This may include:

  • Recommendations for brushing and flossing
  • Using specialised tools to clean around the implant if needed
  • Dietary and lifestyle practices to prevent damaging the implant

As a responsible patient, you must attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your dentist. This will also give you a chance to notify them of any issues or concerns that may have arisen between appointments.

Final Thoughts

Dental implants are a safe and effective way to replace missing teeth. However, implant failure can occur due to various reasons, including infection, gum disease, implant mobility, bone loss, and physical trauma. To reduce the risk of implant failure, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene practices, have regular dental checkups, and follow the recommended post-surgery care. Other factors that can impact implant success include lifestyle choices and managing medical conditions like diabetes. By working closely with their dentist and medical team, patients can ensure the success of their implant surgery and enjoy the benefits of a natural-looking, stable, and long-lasting solution to missing teeth.

For all of your implant needs, trust Hills Family Dental Centre. We offer reliable services from skilled dentists who will provide exceptional care. Schedule an appointment online or by phone today, and let’s work toward your beautiful smile that’s sure to turn heads!