It’s certainly cause for anxiety when you notice that your dental implant feels loose, but the good news is that it doesn’t always mean you have a dental emergency on your hands. There are a few different reasons why your dental implant might be loose, and although each of them requires attention from your oral surgeon or dentist, they’re not all serious.
Your Loose Dental Implant Might Not Be Loose at All
The most common cause of a loose dental implant isn’t a loose dental implant! Your restoration could be loose, while the dental implant itself is still securely planted into the jaw. This is the best case scenario, and luckily it’s also the one we see most often.
Even with a fixed crown, bridge, or denture, it’s possible for the prosthetic to loosen a bit, particularly after an injury or because of a teeth grinding habit. Sometimes, a restoration may become loose simply because of its age—the wear and tear of daily use could mean it’s time for a replacement.
When it’s the prosthetic attached to the dental implant that’s loose and not your dental implant, call your dentist or prosthodontist to schedule an appointment. They’ll be able to either tighten the restoration or let you know if you need to have a new one fabricated. Although a loose restoration is not as urgent as a loose dental implant, it does still require timely care because it can compromise the integrity of the dental implant.
Your Dental Implant Placement Failed
The vast majority of dental implant placements are successful and the dental implant fixtures last for a lifetime. Rarely, a dental implant may fail in the first year, which is usually caused by a failure in osseointegration, or the fusing of the jawbone and dental implant. This can be caused by issues you have no control over, like health conditions you might have, or by failing to follow the aftercare instructions provided to you.
If your dental implant itself is loose and not just the restoration that is attached to it, call our office right away to set up an appointment with Dr. Steel. He will determine whether the best course of action is to stabilize your implant or to remove it, allow your jaw to heal, and then place another implant at a later date.
You Have an Infection
Another cause of dental implant failure is peri-implantitis, a term used to describe an infection around a dental implant. Tobacco use, diabetes, and gum disease may lead to peri-implantitis, but sometimes it happens for no discernible reason. It’s common to experience pain and swelling around your implant with peri-implantitis, in addition to the loose implant.
If possible, Dr. Steel will clean the area and prescribe a course of antibiotics to clear the infection. In more severe cases of peri-implantitis, the implant may need to be removed. Once the area has healed, you may wish to have another implant placed.