Infected Dental Implants

Be it tooth decay, an injury, or gum disease, there are numerous causes for tooth loss and data shows that an estimated 70 percent of American adults between the ages of 35 to 44 have lost one or more permanent teeth. Increasingly, patients are turning to dental implants as a method of replacing missing teeth with roughly 500,000 people undergoing the procedure annually in the US.

While great solutions for restoring functionality and appearance, dental implants are prone to infection the same as natural teeth. This article will highlight the signs and symptoms of an infected dental implant as well as steps that can be taken to address the issue.

Common Signs of an Infected Dental Implant

Dental implant patients that experience any of the following signs and symptoms after surgery, likely have an infection and need to seek treatment to address the issue:

  • Trouble and Discomfort Chewing: After an invasive procedure, like dental implant surgery, some pain or discomfort is to be expected. Most post-operative discomfort can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. However, if pain is severe, spreads, or persists to the point it interferes with chewing and talking, it could signal an infection.
  • Swelling, Redness, and Fever: Just like some discomfort, mild swelling around the surgical site is normal following a dental implant procedure. Swelling should subside within a few days. Should redness and swelling continue or be accompanied by a fever, an infection is likely.
  • Constant Bad Breath or Taste in the Mouth: Infected dental implants are caused by the accumulation of harmful bacteria and debris in the mouth. While these sit on the gums and leak into the mouth, a bad taste may develop in the mouth that will not go away. Constant bad breath could also occur as a result.
  • Bleeding or Pus Discharge: In the presence of an infection, white and red blood cells flood to the area to combat the pathogens. With gum tissue, this could result in blood and pus leaking into the mouth. Bleeding that continues or increases after a few days is likely because of an infection.
  • Loose Implant: To keep them securely in the mouth, dental implants are embedded directly into the jawbone. Once placed, dental implants should remain stable the rest of the patient’s life. Should an implant become loose or wiggle, it is a sign that something is wrong and another procedure may be needed to fix it.

Why Do Dental Implant Problems Happen?

Rather than a singular cause, there are often multiple factors that cause dental implant infections or complications. Patients with underlying health conditions like periodontitis (gum disease), cancer, or diabetes, often have greater risks of poor healing which can impact the effectiveness of an implant. These underlying conditions should all be discussed ahead of time with the doctor so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

Dental implant problems can also stem from poor dental hygiene regimens and failing to follow aftercare instructions. Following implant surgery, patients should expect to:

  • Reduce physical activity
  • Stick to the recommended diet
  • Take antibiotics or medications as prescribed
  • Ensure dental hygiene practice is thorough, but gentle

Medicare and Dental Implants