Are dental implants safe and reliable? 

Jamie J. Alexander on April 21, 2022

“Dental implants have been used for half a century. They are safe and effective,” says Boynton Beach dentist, Dr. Jamie J. Alexander. “Studies indicate that, in 95% of cases, there are no complications. Certain lifestyle and health circumstance increase the risk of complications occurring as can receiving implant treatment from an inexperienced or less well-trained provider. Choosing a knowledgeable, well-trained implant provider will help minimize and ensure skillful handling of any problems if they arise. That’s why I refer patients to exceptional implant surgeons.”

What are common implant complications?

Some of the more common problems that may develop following dental implant surgery follow.

    1. Gum recession – This can occur around an implant and lead to inflammation.
    2. >Loose implant – The process of bone growing around an implant takes time, and implant fusion with the jawbone is essential. If the implant fails to osseo integrate with the jawbone, your implant surgeon can remove the implant, and after a period of healing, attempt to place an implant again.
    3. Nerve damage – Sometimes a dental implant is too close to a nerve, causing long-term numbness, tingling or a burning sensation in the surrounding gum and skin.
    4. Inflammation of sinus mucous membranes – This sinusitis can happen when an upper implant protrudes into the nasal cavity. Signs and symptoms are a sinus headache, toothache, and/or facial swelling, as well as thick nasal mucus.
    5. Infection of gum and/or bone – A bacterial infection in the gum may require antibiotics or a soft tissue graft. A bacterial infection in the bone may require removal of the infected bone and possibly the implant, followed by a bone and soft tissue graft. As with other medical problems, early detection and treatment is key to antibiotic therapy resolving the infection before more extensive treatment is needed.
    6. Damage to the implant – Excessive force can cause an implant to crack or become loose. For example, some people brux, their teeth while sleeping. People who are prone to this behavior may need to wear a nightguard to prevent damage to the implant as well as their natural teeth.

What raises the risk of implant complications?

Five common conditions raise the risk of implant surgery complications:

  • Smoking
  • Untreated tooth decay
  • Active periodontal disease
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Diminished jawbone strength and thickness making it unable to support the implant

Reducing risk and increasing the reliability of implant treatment

Often, you can reduce risk factors to have implant treatment. If you smoke, you can quit smoking and have a comprehensive oral health evaluation to assure good oral health prior to implant surgery. If you have tooth decay or gum disease you can accept treatment to remove these conditions prior to implant treatment. If you have diabetes, once it is under control, implant treatment can be attempted. A diminished jawbone can often be augmented through bone grafting performed by the implant surgeon, and then after a period of healing, implant placement can proceed.

Dr. Jamie Alexander collaborates with expert implant surgeons to ensure risks are assessed prior to treatment so higher risk factors can be minimized or eliminated. The surgeons he refers to have CBCT 3D imaging to plan and guide implant placement, platelet-rich plasma technology for faster healing, and IV sedation for patients who want this. 

After implant osseointegration and gum healing are achieved, Dr. Alexander can proceed to complete the restorative treatment, for example, with an implant crown or bridge. Dr. Alexander is very exacting about the occlusal design of his implant restorations to minimize or eliminate the risk of excessive forces damaging the implant or implant prosthesis (crown or bridge that is supported by the implant). Sometimes the occlusal tops of other teeth need to be modified so all teeth work harmoniously together to eliminate excessive forces. This procedure is called equilibration and the adjustments made are so tiny, that teeth are not injured. Instead, all teeth are better protected from excessive wear and tear.

A note about equilibration: “Teeth naturally undergo attrition as people use them over the years. Tooth enamel cracks. Enamel wears down. That’s why most people are in need of dental crowns on back teeth in their middle years and older,” says Dr. Alexander. “Where occlusal forces are large, the chronic hard touching of teeth on each other speeds up wear. Equilibration is a procedure that benefits many of our patients because it redistributes biting and chewing forces across more teeth, diminishing excessive force on a few teeth. This preventive measure not only improves the long-term health of natural teeth but also implants and implant restorations.”

Am I a good candidate for dental implants?

Every patient has a unique set of oral health conditions. Most people with missing teeth can have dental implants. With advancements in dentistry, situations that limited treatment in the past no longer limit treatment. Working together we can improve oral health to a level where implant success is assured. For a comprehensive oral health assessment and implant consultation in Boynton Beach, FL, give us a call, and we will schedule you right away!