Dental Implant Risks and Complications

by Dental-Pedia

Dental implant surgery has an incredibly high success rate with a negligible risk of complications. For most patients, dental implants last a lifetime without any problems or complications. However, estimates suggest that about 5% of dental implants fail weeks, months, or years after the procedure. Remote as they may be, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the possible risks and long-term complications of dental implants.

This article highlights the risks and complications of dental implants and the factors influencing implant success.

What are the Potential Risks and Complications of Dental Implants?

What are the Potential Risks and Complications of Dental Implants?

Infections at the implant site

Like all surgeries, dental implant surgery also carries an inherent risk of infections at the implant site. You can reduce the risk of infections by following the doctor’s advice regarding aftercare. The risk of bacterial infection is generally lower with cemented ceramic implants than screw-retained titanium implants.

Gum Recession around the implant

In some cases, the gum tissues around the implant start receding, leading to inflammation and discomfort. If your gums start receding after the surgery, you must contact the dentist immediately to remove or replace the implant.

Risks and complications of dental implants: Gum Recession around the implant

Loose Implant

After the surgery, it takes around 3 to 6 months for your bone tissues to fuse with the implant via a process called osseointegration. If the implant doesn’t fuse with the bone tissues, you may have a loose implant that must be removed.

Implant-induced Nerve Damage

You may experience implant-induced nerve damage if the implant is placed too close to a nerve, leading to tingling sensations and numbness.


If the artificial tooth (crown or bridge) is attached to the implant too soon, i.e., before the implant-bone fusion is complete, the implant may eventually fail due to the extra stress.  If the implant fails, the dentist has to remove it and start the process over again.

Allergic Reactions to Titanium Implants

Some patients develop allergic reactions to titanium implants, leading to swelling, tingling sensations, loss of taste, and other complications. However, zirconia (ceramic) implants carry no risk of allergic reactions because they’re completely metal-free.

Sinus Problems

Dental implants in the upper jaws can sometimes protrude into the sinus cavities, leading to sinusitis. Patients with sinusitis experience pain, tenderness, swelling, nasal mucus, blocked nose, reduced sense of smell, headaches, bad breath, toothaches, and other problems.

Implant Damage due to Bruxism

Excessive bite force due to bruxism can damage the dental implant, making it crack or loosen. People with bruxism or teeth clenching habits should wear mouthguards to protect the implant and teeth.

Risks and complications of dental implants: Peri-implantitis, implant rejection


Chronic inflammation at the implant site can eventually lead to gum disease and the loss of bone tissues supporting the implant, leading to bleeding and swelling. It takes peri-implantitis about 5 years to progress enough to become noticeable. Titanium implants have a higher risk of peri-implantitis than ceramic implants.

Implant Rejection

In rare cases, the body rejects the dental implant because of metal sensitivities or because it is seen as a foreign object. Zirconia implants generally have a lower risk of rejection because they don’t contain metallic components.

What are the Signs of Dental Implant Failure & Complications?

  • Difficulty while chewing

  • Gum inflammation

  • Increased swelling

  • Gum recession

  • Severe pain at the implant site

  • Loosened implant

Which Factors Influence Dental Implant Success?

Which Factors Influence Dental Implant Success? Gum Disease, Smoking, underlying conditions

Gum Disease

Your gums must be completely healthy when you pursue dental implant surgery. An active gum infection can damage the gum and jawbone, leading to implant failure. If you have gum disease, please seek treatment and recover completely before getting a dental implant.


Studies have shown that smoking can increase the dental implant failure rate by 20%. That’s because smoking restricts blood flow to the gums, thereby slowing down the healing process. If you’re a smoker, you should stop smoking at least two weeks before your surgery and avoid smoking until the osseointegration is complete.

Smoking can increase the dental implant failure by 20%. Dental implant risks and complications

Sufficient Jaw Bone

You must have sufficient jawbone to support the implant. If you don’t have sufficient jawbone at the time of surgery, the dentist may recommend bone grafting to facilitate jawbone regeneration before the surgery. However, you can also suffer from dental implant failure later if you develop osteoporosis, a condition that decreases bone density.

Underlying Conditions 

The risk of dental implant failure is higher for patients with underlying autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, making your body heal slower and prevents optimal osseointegration.


Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications slow down your body’s healing rate, leading to a higher risk of implant failure. You should disclose all your current medications to your dentist and temporarily stop taking certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Studies have shown that certain heartburn medications and antidepressants can slow down bone growth.

Dental Maintenance

You must maintain optimal oral health to prevent dental implant failures. If you don’t clean your teeth thoroughly, you have a higher risk of gum disease and infections, leading to a higher dental implant failure rate.

Skills and Experience of Dental Surgeon

The oral surgeon’s skills and experience also determine the implant’s success. An improperly placed implant can lead to nerve damage, sinus troubles, or other complications. As such, you must find an experienced dental surgeon with a strong track record — someone who’s placed hundreds of implants while maintaining a low implant failure rate.

How to Prevent Dental Implant Failure and Complications?

  • Brush and floss regularly to maintain optimal oral health.

  • Visit the dentist every six months for routine dental checkups and cleaning.

  • Stop smoking.

  • Eat calcium-rich foods, like milk and yogurt, or take calcium supplements to strengthen your bone.

  • Wear a mouthguard if you have bruxism or while playing sports.

  • Don’t chew ice or other hard objects.

  • Get the prosthetic tooth once your jawbone has healed completely.

  • Use zirconia implants to reduce the risk of bacterial infections, allergies, and implant rejection.

  • Visit an experienced oral surgeon with a strong track record.

How to Prevent Dental Implant Failure and Complications - oral hygiene, healty diet

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