Having loose dental implants in your mouth may be the result of poor oral hygiene, bruxism, and the application of extreme force when eating or biting something. You may experience pain at the implant site. In addition, you may need to see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for treatment. Waiting to see how the situation develops is not an option.
In most cases, your dentist will give you an emergency appointment to fix the issue. That way, the condition will not create further oral complications for you.
Main Reasons You Have Loose Dental Implants
Dental implants are installed on your jawbone to replace your missing teeth. They usually last for years and decades or even a lifetime.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
According to the Journal of the International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, 90%–95% of implants survive after 10 years.
The Journal of Oral Medicine and Oral Surgery states that about 75% of all implants fail after 20 years.
American Academy of Implant Dentistry puts the success rate of implant surgery at 95%.
The following have been identified to be the reasons for implant failure:
- Excessive smoking
- Weak bones, or osteoporosis
- Lack of vitamin D
- Soft bones, or osteomalacia
- Side effects of certain medications
- Radiation therapy
- High blood pressure
- Bruxism, as stated above
- Gum inflammation surrounding the implants
- Injury to the surrounding tissues during surgery
- Progressive bone loss
- Low-quality grafted bones
- Surgical site infection (accounted for 34% of implant failures)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Coronary heart disease and stroke
- Sinus lift surgery
- Implant length
- Tooth position
- Aortic disease
A sudden trauma around the implant site and natural wear and tear due to years of use may also make your implants loose.
Let’s look at the matter from two different perspectives.
- A loose dental implant may be a broken dental implant. This rarely happens because implants are made of very strong material.
- The implant is not broken, but it has not integrated with your bone following the surgery because of one or more of the abovementioned reasons.
According to Dr. Zahra Bagheri of New York University College of Dentistry, “Implant failure can occur when the body interprets the implant as a foreign body and tries to get rid of it.”
FDA on loose dental implants
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cites the following as the possible cause of the looseness of the implant body:
- Systemic infection (caused by diabetes, for example)
- Local infection (for example, infections limited to the gums)
- Delayed healing (caused by excessive smoking)
Symptoms of Loose Dental Implants
The common signs and symptoms of loose and wobbly implants include the following:
- The implants themselves feel loose in their positions
- Loose crowns
- Loose abutments
- Pain at the implant site
A dental implant crown is the surface wherein all the external forces collide in your mouth.
A loose dental implant is inevitable when a permanent dental crown suffers trauma.
In addition, if your dental implant crown is loose, chances are there are cracks in the dental cement holding them on the implants.
TREATMENT: Most dentists will unscrew the dental implant crown if possible. But if the cement is fragile, the dentist might need to extract the entire crown and thoroughly clean the abutment and implant rod.
If the crown has no fracture, it can be put back in place. However, if it is broken or otherwise damaged, your dentist will arrange a new one for you.
An abutment is a hollow area on top of your jawbone. It is the piece that connects your dental crown to the implant.
A loose abutment is one of the most common causes of implant failure or implants feeling loose.
The following factors can loosen an abutment:
- Incorrect placement of the implant
- External forces and foreign particles causing trauma to the abutment
- Fractures when chewing something hard
- Abutments made of low-quality materials
- Faulty dental implant design
Your dentist may have to remove the entire implant system to prevent the condition from aggravating.
The Role of Gum Disease and Bone Loss in Loosening Dental Implants
Gum infections and diseases worsen over time if not treated properly.
If you have gum disease, the surrounding bone loses its firm hold on your implant. As a result, your titanium implant post might feel loose or wobbly when you bite something.
You must take your oral hygiene routine seriously to avoid gum diseases. Maintaining good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent gum inflammations and infections!
Your implant will loosen if you experience significant bone loss or your grafted bone is not solid.
Follow the post-op dental implant instructions to the full to make sure your implants do not fail.
What Happens When Your Dental Implants Fail?
A failed dental implant (because of a lack of desired integration) needs to be removed. Your dentist will examine the bone graft to see if a new bone graft is required.
The treatment period can be long. According to Cleveland Clinic, bone grafts may take 3 to 9 months to heal. The Harvard School of Dental Medicine recommends that timeline as between 3 and 6 months for single tooth replacements.
If dental infections have caused implant failure, the gums must be treated before an implant can be placed.
A new implant can be installed immediately if the previous one is broken.
Loose dental implants are not a medical emergency. But that does not mean that you should not seek medical attention. Dental conditions are complicated and often connected to other oral and facial complications. Consulting a dentist within 48 hours is recommended.
How Can You Maintain a Good Dental Implant?
- Brush your teeth twice a day to prevent tooth decay
- Do not use harsh toothpaste
- Brush the area surrounding the dental implant
- Use an implant-specific floss and use it daily
- Use a dentist-recommended oral irrigator
A dental implant is one of the most durable restoration options for replacing missing teeth. Unfortunately, it cannot last long if your gums are not healthy or you suffer from many other symptoms and conditions that can have an adverse effect on it.
Consult your dentist quickly if you have a loose dental implant. Waiting to see if the condition heals by itself is not an option.
A broken implant can be replaced immediately, but if you need bone grafts, you may need to wait as many as nine months before placing your implant back into your jaw or getting a new implant.
Raikar S. et al. Factors Affecting the Survival Rate of Dental Implants: A Retrospective Study. Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry. 2017 Nov-Dec;7(6):351-355.
American Academy of Implant Dentistry. What is the Success Rate of Dental Implants? Accessed on 15 December 2022.
Thiebot, N. et al. Implant failure rate and the prevalence of associated risk factors: a 6-year retrospective observational survey. Journal of Oral Medicine and Oral Surgery 2022;28:19.
Also from SupreDent:
Are Titanium Dental Implants Safe?
Dental allograft: What is it, and how is it done?
Dental Bone Grafting: Autograft, Allograft, Xenograft