Infected Dental Implants

Dental implants are one of the most popular tooth replacement treatments preferred among adults in the United States (US). In fact, approximately 500,000 US adults get a dental implant each year. This popularity is due in part to the face that dental implants offer stability, durability, and improved comfort over many other tooth replacement options. While implants have almost a 95% success rate, complications with dental implant treatment can occur. Below is more information on some of the complications that can occur with implant treatment, including signs of dental implant infection.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are titanium or ceramic posts that are surgically installed in the jawbone. The implants are designed to act like the roots of new artificial teeth. After the surgery, a several month healing period is critical to allow time for the dental implants to fuse with the jawbone. Once the implants have fused with the bone, they are ready to provide a stable support for a new artificial crown, bridge, or dentures. Dental implants can also help to stimulate healthy bone growth.

Common Signs of a Dental Implant Infection

While complications with dental implant treatment are rare, they can happen. The most common complication experienced is an infected dental implant. Some of the common signs of an infected dental implant include:

  • Pain and Trouble Chewing: Immediately following a dental implant procedure some pain and discomfort can be expected. This discomfort should only last a few days after the procedure. If you have pain after the implant surgery that lasts longer than a few days and you notice it when you are talking and chewing, you should contact your dentist.
  • Fever, Redness, and Swelling: Similar to post-procedure discomfort, some redness and swelling around the implant site is common immediately after surgery. This swelling should reduce within a few days. If you have swelling and redness for more than a few days, an infection may be developing. If you also develop a fever you should contact your dentist immediately.
  • Bad Taste in the Mouth: Bacteria or food debris can build up near the new implant site and cause an infection. This bacteria can create a bad taste in the mouth or bad breath that won’t go away.
  • Bleeding or Pus: In response to an infection, the body will send red and white blood cells to the infection site which can lead to the buildup of blood and pus. After implant surgery, some light bleeding should be expected, but if this bleeding continues or pus starts to develop after a few days, it may be an early sign of an infection.
  • Loose Implant: An essential step in the dental implant treatment is when the dental implant fuses with the jawbone after the implant surgery in a process, called osseointegration. If the implant feels loose, it may be a sign that the implant is not fusing well with the jawbone. Infection or unhealthy tissue are two potential reasons the fusing process is not occurring as it should be.

Medicare and Dental Implants