Dental implants are a permanent solution for repairing tooth loss due to their strength and natural appearance. Dental implants are often secured into a patient's jaw using titanium screws for strength and durability. Sometimes, these screws may break, or a wearer may develop complications due to rejection or allergies. These issues can easily be repaired at an oral surgeon's office using a variety of procedures.
Titanium Implant Complications
Titanium screws can break or fail for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include:
- Jawline Fusion Failure: The jaw may fail to fuse with the titanium screws causing the implants to become loose or even fall out. This can be caused by slow jawline regrowth, poor bone density or volume, improper screw placement, too many screws in a particular jaw segment, or tissue damage.
- Overloading: An oral surgeon may choose to add the implants and crowns in one visit instead of spreading out an appointment over several weeks. While this may result in quicker healing for some patients, in others—especially those with bone density issues—this could result in complications such as loose implants. If a patient applies too much pressure on the implants during the healing process, the titanium screws may become too loose to be effective.
- Teeth Grinding: People who grind their teeth have a higher risk for breaking their implants. Grinding can push on teeth causing them to wiggle which leads to potential loosening or breaking. Wearing a mouth guard may protect against damage, but many dentists may recommend going against implant surgery.
- Rejection: In rare cases, a patient's body may reject the implants and cause the body to have an adverse reaction to them. Severe pain and possible expelling of the implants may occur and should be checked out immediately.
- Allergic Reaction: Individuals with a nickel allergy may react unfavorably to the titanium. Allergic reactions may cause a need to have the titanium screws removed and replaced.
Fixing Titanium Implant Damage
Damaged titanium implants can be repaired easily in an oral surgeon's office if patients and dentists address the issues quickly. The moment a patient experiences pain, looseness, swelling, or any other out-of-the-ordinary symptoms, he or she should call the dentist immediately to make an appointment in order to stop any further damage such as bone lose, implants falling out, or gum damage.
During the appointment, the dentist will examine the patient and take X-rays to determine where damage occurred before determining a course of treatment for various issues. With many issues—such as injury, teeth grinding, fusion failure, and overloading—repairing the bone is the most common course of treatment to help fix implant damage.
If an X-Ray shows that bone along the implants has weakened or deteriorated, the dentist will recommend bone and gum grafting to help hold implants in place while rebuilding the jaw. Bone grafting can help rebuild a patient's jaw to proper alignment, while gum grafting helps restore the gum line to create a natural appearance. Both will help hold implants in place and allow the screw to not shift.
To perform a grafting procedure, dentists will place bone or tissue in the places that need to be built up. The "host tissues" will then start to fuse with the bone that's there to fix the issue. Depending on the damage, a second surgical procedure may be needed in order to extract healthy bone or tissue to add to the damaged sections, but many procedures may not be this extreme.
Upon completion of the grafting procedure, the patient will take some time to heal. The implants should feel more natural and should not be loose. If the damage was severe, the oral surgeon may have to redo the implant procedure.
Rejection and Allergy Repair
In rare instances, patients' bodies may reject titanium implants or a nickel allergy may occur. While this is a setback for those who need implants, it's not catastrophic and easily repairable.
If the implants cause an allergic reaction or rejected, the oral surgeon will simply remove the implants. The gums and bone will be allowed to heal for a period of time, which may lead the patient to feeling uncomfortable for the time being due to itching and the need for stronger oral hygiene to prevent bacteria growth. A dentist may recommend some medications during this period to add in discomfort, but for some, this step may be unnecessary.
Once healed, the oral surgeon can then use non-titanium implants such as ceramic or zirconia implants. The zirconia is the better of the two since it is more durable and flexible and has a natural whiteness. Both options provide a beautiful finish and longevity to help patients feel better about their smiles. Of course, if a known metal intolerance exists, patients should explore other options outside of titanium.
Even though there are issues associated with titanium implants, the success rates with them are often high. As with any procedure, it's best to weigh options with a dentist before taking the plunge in order to avoid costly issues in the future.