Causes of Dental Implant Failure: Why Good Implants Go Bad

Causes of Dental Implant Failure: Why Good Implants Go Bad

Dental implants have revolutionised modern dentistry, providing patients with a long-lasting and functional solution to tooth loss. Dental implants consist of a titanium post surgically inserted into the jawbone, acting as a sturdy anchor for a tooth replacement tooth.

In this blog post, we will provide an overview of dental implants, their importance in modern dentistry and the significance of understanding the causes of implant failure. We will also discuss common causes of dental implant failure and provide tips for preventing implant failure.

Read on to find out more.

Summary of the Article

  • Dental implants have a high success rate, but there is still a possibility of failure, ranging from 5% to 10%.

  • The causes of implant failure include medical conditions, poor oral hygiene, implant material and design, surgical procedure errors, smoking, and more.

  • Signs and symptoms of implant failure include pain or discomfort, swelling or inflammation, loosening of the implant, gum recession, and changes in the bite.

  • Preventive measures for implant failure include proper care, regular dental check-ups, avoiding smoking, managing medical conditions, and choosing a reputable and experienced dentist.

What is Dental Implant Failure?

Dental implant failure is a condition that occurs when a dental implant does not properly integrate with the jawbone, leading to instability or the implant’s removal. Dental implant failure can be categorised as an early or late failure, depending on when it happens.

Early failure usually happens within the first few months after the implant placement and may be caused by surgical complications, infection, or insufficient jawbone density. Conversely, late implant failure typically occurs after the implant has integrated into the jaw bone and can be caused by trauma, bone loss, or infection.

The following are common signs and symptoms of dental implant failure:

  • Persistent pain or discomfort around the implant site
  • Implant mobility or loosening
  • Gum inflammation or swelling
  • Bone loss around the implant site
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Implant breakage or fracture
  • Unusual sounds or sensations around the implant site

If you experience these, you must contact your dentist immediately. Early intervention and treatment can help prevent potential complications.

Medical Conditions Contributing to Dental Implant Failure

Several medical conditions can contribute to dental implant failure, affecting the implant’s integration and stability.


Diabetes affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. It can also impact the body’s ability to heal and fight infections. Studies have shown this metabolic disorder can increase the risk of dental implant failure, especially in individuals with poorly controlled blood sugar levels.

High blood sugar levels can impair the implant’s integration with the jawbone, leading to instability and failure. Therefore, proper blood sugar management is essential to minimise the risk of implant failure in diabetic patients.


Osteoporosis is a condition characterised by losing bone density and strength, making bones more fragile and susceptible to fractures. Reduced bone density prevents the jawbone from providing sufficient support for the implant.

Therefore, patients with osteoporosis may need additional treatments or procedures, such as bone grafting or sinus lift, to achieve implant stability.

Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders are conditions where the body’s immune system attacks its tissues and organs, leading to inflammation and tissue damage.

Autoimmune disorders can impede the healing process and the implant integrating with the jawbone. Therefore, patients with autoimmune diseases may need to be closely monitored. Additional measures may be taken to minimise the risk of implant failure.

If you have a health condition that may affect dental implant success, it’s essential to discuss it with your dentist before undergoing implant placement.

Dental Health Factors that May Affect Dental Implant Outcome

Several dental health factors can impact the results of dental implants.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease or gum disease is a bacterial infection affecting the gums and bones supporting the natural teeth. Research has shown that patients with periodontal disease have a higher risk of dental implant failure. This is because the bacteria that cause gum disease can infect the implant site and affect the implant’s integration with the jawbone.

Proper prevention and treatment of periodontal disease through routine dental check-ups, proper oral hygiene practices, and prompt treatment of gum disease symptoms are crucial to reduce the risk of implant failure.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene habits promote bacteria and plaque buildup around the implant site, leading to infection and implant failure. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash can help reduce the possibility of implant failure.

Regular dental check-ups and professional cleaning can also help remove plaque or bacteria buildup and detect early signs of implant failure.

Inadequate Bone Density and Quality

Adequate bone density and quality are crucial for successful dental implant outcomes, as the implant needs a solid foundation to integrate with the jawbone.

Here are the causes of inadequate bone density and quality:

  • Aging:
    As we age, our bones tend to become thinner and weaker. Older patients may have less bone density and poorer bone quality, making it more challenging for implants to integrate with the jawbone.

  • Genetics:
    Some individuals are genetically predisposed to having poor bone density and quality. Genetic factors can affect growth and bone structure, making it less conducive to implant integration.

  • Tooth Loss:
    When a tooth is extracted, the jawbone in that area shrinks or resorbs, leading to poor bone quality. This process can happen immediately after tooth extraction, but if addressed immediately or planned well, there are methods that can be employed to prevent bone resorption after tooth extraction, preparing the bone for implant placement.

  • Periodontal Disease:
    Gum disease or periodontal disease causes inflammation of the gums and resorption of the bone. This leads to subsequent bone loss, which can compromise the ability of the jawbone to support a dental implant.

Bone graft is a common treatment for insufficient bone density and quality. It involves placing bone grafts at the implant site to stimulate new bone growth and improve its quality. Sometimes, a sinus lift or ridge augmentation is needed to create sufficient healthy bone for implant placement.

The Impact of Smoking on Dental Implants

Smoking is a harmful habit that can adversely affect oral health, including dental implants. Here’s how smoking affects the outcome of dental implant treatment:

  1. Slow healing and implant integration:
    Smoking can reduce blood flow to the implant site, delaying the healing process and affecting the implant’s ability to integrate with the jawbone. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can also cause inflammation, further impeding the healing process.

  2. Higher risk of implant failure:
    Smoking is a known risk factor for dental implant failure. Studies have shown that smokers are up to twice as likely to experience dental implant failure than non-smokers. The risk of failure increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the duration of smoking.

  3. Importance of quitting smoking:
    By quitting smoking, blood flow to the implant site can improve, allowing for faster healing and better implant integration. Smokers who quit smoking before or after implant placement have a significantly higher success rate than those who continue to smoke.

If you’re a smoker considering prosthetic tooth placement, discuss smoking cessation with your dental professional to improve the chances of successful implant integration and long-term function.

Surgical Errors and Complications

Dental implant surgery is a complex dental procedure that requires a high level of skill and precision. However, even with the best intentions, surgical errors and implant complications can occur.

Improper Implant Placement

Accurate implant placement affects its stability and ability to integrate with the jawbone. Common errors in the placement of metal implant posts include improper positioning, inadequate depth, and inadequate width. These errors can lead to implant failure, bone loss, and other complications.

Proper training and experience in implant placement, along with advanced technology such as computer-guided implant placement, can help reduce the risk of poor implant placement.

Infection and Complications

The risk of infection and complications is always present in any surgical procedure, and dental implant procedure is no exception. Infection can occur at any stage of the implant process, leading to implant failure, bone loss, and other complications.

Proper pre-operative planning, surgical technique, and dental implant aftercare are essential in preventing and addressing post-surgical infections.

Implant Overloading

Implant overloading occurs when excessive pressure is placed on the implant before fully integrating with the jawbone. If not addressed, it can cause implant failure, bone loss, and other complications. The causes of implant overloading include inadequate implant spacing, inadequate bone density, and excessive biting forces.

To prevent and manage occlusal overload in implants, it’s essential to choose the appropriate implant size and design, allow sufficient bone healing time before placing pressure on the implant, and use a nightguard to reduce excessive biting forces.

How Implant Material and Design Affect Dental Implant Success

The survival rates of dental implants largely depend on the implant material and its design. Choosing the right implant material and design is crucial for the longevity and stability of the implant.

Implant Material

High-quality materials like titanium or titanium alloy are commonly used in dental implants. These materials are biocompatible. This means they do not harm the body and can integrate well with the jaw bone, providing stability and longevity. Your dentist will discuss the most suitable implant material for your specific needs.

Implant Design

Poor implant design can lead to implant failure, bone loss, and other complications. Your dentist will carefully plan and choose the proper implant design to reduce the risk of design flaws.

Reputable manufacturers use high-quality materials with a record of producing reliable and effective implants. Your dentist will recommend a trusted provider of high-quality implants that meets your needs.

Dental Implant Failure Signs and Symptoms

While dental implants have a high success rate, implant failure is still possible. Knowing the signs and symptoms of implant failure is essential to seek treatment promptly and preventing further complications.

Here are some signs and symptoms of dental implant failure:

  • Pain or discomfort:
    Implant failure can cause pain or discomfort around the implant site, especially when biting or chewing. This may also be a sign of infection.

  • Swelling or inflammation:
    Swelling and inflammation around the implant site may indicate implant failure or an infection.

  • Loose implant:
    If the tooth implant feels loose or moves around, it could indicate implant failure or inadequate osseointegration.

  • Gum recession:
    Receding gums around the implant site can expose the metal posts and indicate peri-implant diseases, a form of gum disease affecting implants.

  • Changes in bite: Changes in your bite and difficulty biting or chewing can indicate implant failure or improper implant placement.

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, it’s essential to contact your dentist immediately. Your dentist will examine the implant and determine the cause of the problem. Treatment may involve removing and replacing the implant with a new one or addressing any underlying issues, such as infection or inadequate bone density.

Preventing Dental Implant Failure

Preventing dental implant failure is essential for the longevity and success of the prosthetic treatment. Here are some tips to help prevent implant failure following oral surgery:

  1. Proper Oral Care:
    Proper oral hygiene routine is crucial in maintaining the health of your dental implants. This includes regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings. Your dentist will provide you with dental implant aftercare instructions specific to your needs.

  2. Regular Dental Check-ups:
    Regular dental check-ups can help maintain the health of your dental implants. Your dentist will monitor your implants and immediately address problems, if there are any. With this, further complications with implants can be prevented.

  3. Avoiding Smoking:
    Smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products can significantly impact the success of dental implants. If you smoke, quitting can reduce the risk of implant failure and improve oral health.

  4. Managing Medical Conditions:
    Medical conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis can affect the outcomes of dental implants. Proper management of these conditions will help you achieve your dream smile.

  5. Choosing a Reputable Dentist:
    Choosing a reputable dentist can also affect treatment outcomes. A trusted dentist will use high-quality materials, follow proper implant placement techniques, and provide ongoing care and support.

Final Thoughts

Dental implant failure can occur due to various factors such as medical conditions, poor oral hygiene, improper implant material and design, surgical errors, and more. Understanding the causes of implant failure and its symptoms and following proper dental implant aftercare can reduce the risk of dental implant failure and help you achieve your treatment success.

If you’re considering dental implant treatment or have experienced any signs or symptoms of implant failure, it’s essential to seek treatment from a trusted and experienced dental professional.

Mary River Dental offers comprehensive dental services, including implant placement and restoration. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable dentists uses the latest technology and techniques to provide accurate and safe implant placement and ongoing care and support. We understand the importance of a healthy and beautiful smile and work with each patient to create a customised implant treatment plan that meets their unique needs and goals.

If you’re looking for a trusted and experienced dentist to provide dental implant placement and restoration, contact us today to schedule a consultation. Our team is committed to providing high-quality, personalised dental care to help you achieve a beautiful and healthy smile.

Don’t let missing teeth impact your confidence and oral health – let us help you restore your smile with dental implants at Mary River Dental.

Dr. Nick Peters


Dr. Nick Peters

Dr. Nick Peters joined Mary River Dental in 2014 and held Medical Laboratory Science and Dental Surgery degrees from the University of Otago in New Zealand. Before joining the practice, he worked for three years at a private dental clinic in Invercargill. Dr. Peters moved to the Fraser Coast region of Australia after visiting Mary River Dental in 2014.

Related Blogs

Mary River Dental Maryborough

Essential Dental Implant Care Tips: Protect Your Investment

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll shed light on critical areas that are pivotal for the longevity of your dental implants. You’ll gain valuable insights into dental implant maintenance, the role of hygiene in preserving your implants, and effective cleaning techniques that you can incorporate into your daily routine.

Read More
Mary River Dental Maryborough

How to Recognise and Manage Dental Implant Complications

Throughout this blog post, we’ll be taking a close look at the basics of dental implants and some common complications that can arise. You’ll learn how to recognise warning signs, understand factors that can increase the risk of complications, and appreciate the role of professional dental care in managing these problems.

Read More
Mary River Dental Maryborough

Dental Implants and Gum Disease: The Silent Threat to Your Smile

So, are you ready to turn the tide in favour of your oral health? Continue reading for a journey that promises not just answers but a path to a healthier, happier smile.

Read More

Book an Appointment Today and See How We Can Help!

Choose a convenient appointment time

Book an Appointment Now

Get all your dental care needs under one roof

Call (07) 4121 3430
Mary River Dental