Can Dental Implants Fall Out, And If So, How?

Aug 10, 2023
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As a tooth implant dentist, one of the questions I regularly get asked is ‘Can dental implants fall out? In this post, I’ll answer this question in detail so continue reading to learn more.

Dental implants have revolutionized the world of dentistry since they were first placed into a human patient back in 1965. To this day, they remain the gold standard for replacing missing teeth.

The fact that implants eventually become a functioning part of the mouth is a marvel in itself. But one question we’re often asked, particularly by patients considering an implant-based restoration, is “Can dental implants fall out?” 

The short answer is yes.

It’s estimated that 5% -10% of implants fail, some of which fall out, but to comprehend how this happens, we need to understand how they’re integrated into the jaw in the first place. So let’s do just that…

Osseointegration – The (Not So Secret) Secret To Stability  

The remarkable strength and stability of implants is down to a natural bodily phenomenon known as osseointegration.

Once the titanium implant post is inserted into the jaw bone, the bone tissue surrounding the implant starts to fuse to it. The process of bone fusion is known as osseointegration.

Over a short period, bone fusion creates an unbreakable bond between the implant and the jawbone, whereby the implant becomes part of the anatomy, mirroring the symbiotic relationship between natural tooth roots and the supporting bone beneath.

Mysterious Forces At Work

But that’s not all. Once the implant integrates with the bone, a process known as bone remodeling takes place. Remodeling is the body’s way of maintaining healthy bone by continually renewing and reshaping the bone tissue surrounding the implant.

Every time an implant patient eats or chews, pressure or force is exerted onto the implant. Any applied force then stimulates cells in the bone tissue causing them to remodel and strengthen. This dynamic function only further enhances the stability of the implant in the jaw.

So now we know how an implant stays in the jaw, the key question is “How can dental implants fall out?”

4 Reasons Why Tooth Implants Fall Out

Example #1 – Insufficient Bone

Do you know that when a tooth is missing for any reasonable time, jaw bone density decreases? In fact, it’s estimated that 25% of the jawbone will reabsorb back into the body during the first six months after tooth loss.

Yet, for an implant to succeed, it requires placement into sufficient bone –

  • Firstly, to hold the implant in position, and
  • Secondly, so sufficient bone tissue can fuse with the implant post.

When the implant doesn’t have sufficient bone depth to anchor into, it can cause instability issues and may eventually fall out.

An experienced implant dentist using advanced imaging technology will be able to see if the patient has sufficient bone tissue before placement.

When this is not the case, a bone grafting procedure is carried out, thus giving the implant the best chance of anchoring into the jaw.

Example #2 – Poor Oral Hygiene

Although dental implants provide lifelong support for the restoration teeth, they aren’t a ‘set and forget’ procedure. Just like our natural teeth, dental implants require regular brushing and flossing to maintain stability.

But, while bacteria found in plaque won’t cause harm to the implant itself, it can wreak havoc with the supporting bone tissue.

If the problem is not picked up during regular dental checkups, the problem can morph into a site-specific infectious issue known as peri-implantitis. Once peri-implantitis takes hold, it will loosen and weaken the implant, causing it to become loose. Eventually, the implant will fall out.

For this reason, implant patients need to be prepared to commit to a lifetime of good oral practices including regular brushing, flossing and dental check-ups.

Example 3 – Smoking Before And During Osseointegration

So, how can dental implants fall out with smoking?

The answer is in several ways.

Firstly, substances found in tobacco smoke stifle many of the important nutrients that help to grow new bone tissue. Therefore, as the flow of blood and oxygen is restricted, the bone-to-implant fusion process can also be significantly delayed.

As an example, in a non-smoker, bone fusion (osseointegration) typically takes 3-6 months but research has shown that in smokers this can take significantly longer. Or sometimes, not at all.

So if you smoke, while your implant is stabilizing, then you increase the risk of a failed implant.

But that’s not all. The other issue with smoking is the transition of bacteria. Did you know that your average cigarette contains around one million bacteria? This includes microbial toxins and even fungi that are then passed into the mouth. 

As you know, bacteria and dental implants are not good friends and the huge influx of bacteria from cigarette smoke can trigger an attack on the supporting bone tissue.

Therefore, if you do smoke, your implant dentist will ask you to stop at least two weeks before implantation, and until after the implant has fully stabilized in the jaw.

Example #4 – Poor Quality Implants

The final reason why dental implants can fall out is more of a quality issue.

Because dental implants are popular, many implant manufacturers are jumping onto the bandwagon. While most companies provide quality options, some offer implants of a lesser caliber.

So what do we mean by the term “poor quality?”

Essentially, these are implants with lesser-grade materials that are manufactured at a cheaper cost than some of the more well-known options. As a result, unscrupulous dentists may use lower-grade implants because they cost less to buy and by default, they will obtain more business by charging less to the patient.

However, implants containing lesser-grade materials aren’t generally as compatible with bone tissue as quality titanium brands that are tried and tested. Ultimately, stability issues may cause the implant to fail and fall out.

As a top tip, don’t be afraid to ask your implant dentist what type of implants they use. Quality may cost more, but at least you know you’ll stand a better chance of implant success, the first time round.  

So there you have it, four reasons that dental implants can fall out.

Remember, this is a relatively rare phenomenon and provided you follow before and aftercare instructions and choose the right dental implant dentist, you shouldn’t fall into this statistic.

Are you considering dental implants and want to know about your options? Contact our friendly and experienced team at Chesterfield Dentistry.

We take the time to discuss your options and answer all your questions and concerns, giving you the information you need to make a fully informed decision.

Book a free consultation today to find out more.  


Photo attribution: Image by RawPixel.com on Freepik