Risks of Dental Implants

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Perhaps the most serious risk involved when having dental implants fitted is that the drilling or implant itself will cause irreparable nerve damage. Implants into the lower jaw (mandibular implants) are inserted into the same area that contains the mental foramen and inferior alveolar canal, which carries the neurovascular bundle (a group of nerves to the brain).  If the mental foramen or inferior alveolar canal are not located precisely when you are having your scans there is a risk of causing irreparable damage to the nerve. Damage to these nerves can cause numbness or pain in the gums, lips and chin. If you do suffer from numbness it may be permanent and can mean that you suffer from unconscious drooling (just as you do when your mouth is anaesthetised). Do not be too worried though, the risk of nerve damage is dramatically reduced with proper scanning and preparation.

Although dental implants are not liable to suffer from tooth decay they can develop a condition which is called peri-implantitis. This is where the area surrounding the implant (mucosa and bone tissue) becomes inflamed. This can lead to bone loss, which in turn can result in the loss of the implant. You have a higher risk of peri-implantitis if you suffer from diabetes or are a heavy smoker. Poor oral hygiene is also a contributing factor, so it is important to take good care of your teeth and gums, particularly where the implant is fitted.

How will I know if something has gone wrong?

There are certain symptoms that, if you experience them in the first few days or weeks of having implants, will give dentists enough cause to believe the implant has failed and take it out. Rapid action must be taken in these cases, both with regards to diagnosis and removal. Do visit your dentist if you think you have any of the following symptoms.

Excessive bleeding is easy to identify. Some bleeding is normal, but it should stop when you apply pressure to it. If you continue to bleed after the first few days it could be a sign that the implant needs to be removed as it isn’t healing properly. Severe pain that lasts for more than a few days is also a warning sign.

Some people experience numbness of the gums, lip or chin after the surgical anaesthesia has worn off. This could be dangerous and again may result in removal of the implant. Unfortunately numbness of some areas accompanied buy severe pain could suggest the procedure aggravated a nerve. In this case your dentist will need to act quickly to restore nerve function. A 3D x-ray will be taken to determine whether a nerve has been damaged and if so, action will be taken as soon as possible to remove the implant.

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Guide to Dental Implants in London & the UK