One of the most popular ways to deal with the issue of a missing tooth (or teeth) is to get dental implants. They look natural, they don’t have to float in a glass at night, and they have their own root structure, which makes them extremely stable, stable enough to support a bridge or partial dentures. But since dental implants involve surgery, there are some risks associated with the procedure, both immediately after surgery or in the future.
Implant surgery, which exposes the tissue, bone and nerves under the teeth, can lead to infection in different ways. Infection can occur in the gums or the bone itself at the site of the implant, and the discomfort from this is generally noticed quickly by the patient. It is extremely important that the patient seek treatment immediately if he or she experiences red or swollen gums, or if there is bleeding from brushing or examination. This is a fairly common problem that can be treated with antibiotics. But if problem is not noticed and treated, it may become peri-implantitis, which is a more serious infection usually under the implant, and at the extreme, may cause the loss of the implant altogether. This occurs more regularly in people with diabetes and people who use tobacco products.
During an implant process on the upper jaw the implants can protrude into the sinus cavity simply because of the proximity of the sinuses to the jaw; this may also happen if there is already serious loss of bone in the upper jaw region. This can cause increased pressure, tingling or aching in the sinus cavity, which may evolve into more aggressive pain and headaches. In the most extreme cases, the patient may develop severe migraines even if he or she has never experienced them before.
Nerve damage can occur at the site of the anesthetic injection or during the placement of the implant. If an implant is not correctly set, it can actually cut right into a nerve. Serious repercussions can include numbness in the lower quadrant of the face where the implant is located, which means that the cheeks, lips and chin may be permanently numbed; nerve damage from the misplacement of an implant can also cause the rest of the teeth to become numb or painful.
In any kind of implant surgery (teeth, lungs, kidney, etc.) the body must accept what it experiences as a foreign object and integrate it into the system. In dental implants, the patient’s jaw bone successfully fuses with the implant, but there are cases where acceptance does not happen. The patient’s immune system may reject the implant, but there may be other reasons that are not yet known. People who smoke or chew tobacco are more likely to experience implant rejection than those who don’t. Clenching or grinding your teeth may also cause you to reject an implant. And while it is rare, an allergy to titanium (which may be unknown until the patient gets the implant) automatically causes an implant to be rejected.