Dental Implant Fell Out
Dental implants are a trusted means of replacing teeth that have been used successfully since the 1960s. The success rate for dental implants is very high – around 95% - and experiencing sudden problems with an implant are quite rare. While some worry about what to do if an implant should suddenly fall out, the fact is that this almost never happens. Implants can indeed fail, but they don’t suddenly fall out of one’s mouth with no warning. In those rare cases where something does come suddenly out of one’s mouth, it is usually a connecting piece or the prosthetic crown itself, both of which can be easily reattached.
Component Parts of Dental Implants
Dental implants are typically composed of three pieces that work together: the implant fixture, the abutment, and the implant crown, bridge, or overdenture (the replacement tooth or teeth visible above the surface of the gums).
The implant fixture is a small post, most often made of titanium, that is embedded into the jawbone below the surface of the gums. While dental implants are usually regarded for the natural looking implant crowns that they support, the implant fixture is the real star of the show in the dental implant, though it is often overlooked (easy to do, since it isn’t visible!). This tiny but mighty part plays the important role of the prosthetic tooth roots, melding with the jawbone and becoming one with the structure of the mouth. It is the only part of the dental implant that is surgically placed; as such, it is meant to remain permanently in place below the gumline.
Once the implant fixture has been given ample time to fuse with the jawbone (this takes from two to four months for the process to be complete), the abutment is placed. This small piece is what connects the implant crown (or another implant-retained appliance) to be attached to the fixture. This connection takes place under the gumline at the top of the implant fixture, after which time the gums are stitched back up and allowed to heal.
Finally, the prosthetic tooth or teeth is attached to the abutment and the installation is complete. At this point, the entire dental implant should be solid and immovable in the mouth.
Loose Abutments or Crowns
If part of your dental implant has fallen out, it is highly unlikely that the implant fixture itself has extricated itself from your jawbone and made its way out of your mouth. A more likely scenario is that the abutment has become disconnected or the crown itself became detached from the abutment. In either case, you’ll want to have your dentist reattach it right away. Because this is very uncommon, you should also work to find out how it happened; dental implants are sturdy dental devices that don’t typically have parts come loose and fall out.
If the whole implant feels loose or unanchored, this is also something that you should have your dentist examine. By the time the abutment and crown are attached to the implant fixture, it should already have fused with the bone and become thoroughly integrated with the jawbone. A loose implant fixture post-completion of crown placement means that either the implant wasn’t solidly in place to being with or it is no longer firmly in place, which is uncommon.
Reasons that Implant Fixtures Become Loose or Fail
In limited cases, implant fixtures themselves can become loose or even fail. This is usually due to improper placement, an initial lack of healthy available bone mass, or a new or progressing health challenge that has compromised the implant’s fusion with the jawbone. It could also be due to a bacterial infection or advancing gum disease that is eating away at the oral tissues that hold the implant fixture in place.
If an implant fixture was improperly placed or inserted into the jaw in an area that does not have enough healthy bone mass to support it, the implant fixture may have to be removed and replaced. In some cases, bone grafting may be required in order for the implant fixture to be successful. If an implant fixture has been rejected by the body as part of an immune response, it may be necessary to use a different material in subsequent placement of the implant fixture.
If the implant fixture has become loose due to a health issue, including but not limited to gum disease or a bacterial infection, it is important that the issue be identified and evaluated right away. Treating the issue quickly could ensure continued viability of your dental implant, so be sure to be seen right away if you think there is a problem.
Signs and Symptoms of a Problem with an Implant
While it is normal to have some localized pain, swelling, and even a small amount of bleeding immediately following the placement of a dental implant, these symptoms should improve with time. If you find that you are having increased pain, redness, swelling, or bleeding, or if you see any discharge coming from the implant site, you should be seen by a dentist right away to rule out a possible infection or other complication.
Any infections or other minor issues that are identified right away can be quickly treated; this should not have a negative impact on the implant as long as you stick to the treatment plan and maintain any all and all follow-up visits to ensure proper healing.
How to Care for Dental Implants and Avoid Potential Problems
To ensure the best possible outcome following the installation of dental implants, follow the at-home care instruction that your dentist or oral surgeon provides you with. Once you are past the initial healing windows, taking good care of dental implants is just as easy as caring for natural teeth: you’ll want to be sure to brush and floss regularly and take care not to bite down on especially hard substances; eating an apple is fine, but your prosthetic teeth aren’t tools and shouldn’t be used as such.
Even with prosthetic teeth, it’s crucial to maintain regular dentist visits once or twice a year. This will help you ensure that you are maintaining good gum health, which will in turn aid in the longevity and proper working order of your dental implants.