Dental implants are an increasingly popular way to replace missing teeth and for good reason. They’re permanent, stable and look and function just like your natural teeth. There isn’t a better way to restore your smile. But are dental implants safe? Well, as with any procedure, there are risks involved with dental implant surgery and these risks can lead to implant failure. That is why it’s essential to see an experienced doctor like our Naperville prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca. When you work with a skilled dental implant specialist, dental implants are safe and the benefits far outweigh the risks. Here’s what you need to know about dental implant safety and the steps we take at Naperville Dental Specialists to ensure the procedure is a success.
Dental Implant Problems and Risks
Dental implant problems are relatively rare, especially when you seek out a highly trained implant dentist who uses advanced technology. Overall, the dental implant success rate is currently about 98%. Generally, when issues like dental implant pain crop up, it’s usually minor and something we’re able to fix. However, there are risks with dental implant surgery, including:
The most common of the dental implant problems is infection, typically it’s a type known as peri-implantitis. Infection may be the result of pre-existing gum disease or an undiagnosed issue in a neighboring tooth, poor aftercare following dental implant surgery, an implant that doesn’t fit correctly or improper technique used during the procedure. Right after surgery or sometimes much later, the tissue around the implant can become irritated and inflamed. If untreated, this may cause bone loss and dental implant failure. Signs include bleeding that lasts beyond the first 24 hours post-procedure, a persistent or worsening fever, severe swelling that does not subside and throbbing pain that doesn’t go away with medication.
In many cases, antibiotics and dedicated oral hygiene will treat the infection. If there has been bone loss, we may need to combine antibiotics and homecare with other procedures to help regenerate bone in order to save the implant. In cases of severe, advanced infection, it may be necessary to remove and replace the implant.
Without extensive diagnostics and treatment planning, dental implants can be accidentally placed in a spot in the jaw where they impair the nerves. When the nerve is impaired, it causes numbness, tingling, a burning sensation and persistent pain. When a patient experiences nerve impairment, the implant will have to be removed.
Puncturing or Damaging Other Body Cavities
Another risk associated with improper implant placement is mistakenly puncturing the nose, sinuses or mandibular lingual space. This can lead to other complications, including sinus infections and sinusitis. Ultimately, this can end in implant failure and the need for further treatment to address the damage.
Implants fuse with the jawbone in a process known as osseointegration. They then act as the tooth’s root and with proper care, can last a lifetime. Sometimes, however, the implant won’t fully fuse with the bone and will be loose. This can be due to loading the implants with replacement teeth before the bone is able to support the weight, substandard fixtures or placing implants where there isn’t enough jawbone density. If osseointegration doesn’t occur, the implant is said to have failed and it will need to be removed and replaced.
Allergy or Reaction to the Implant Material
Though rare, some people do have an allergy to titanium implants. This can cause their body to reject the implant. Thankfully, some implant specialists, including our Naperville prosthodontist Dr. LaVacca offer zirconia implants as an alternative, which we’ll get to next.
Are Titanium Dental Implants Safe?
Titanium dental implants are safe for most patients. Yet, many people do worry about the effects of the metal in the titanium implants. At Naperville Dental Specialists, we also offer zirconia dental implants, which are a holistic, healthier alternative to titanium and can lower the risks of dental implant surgery even more since they won’t cause an allergic reaction. Benefits of zirconia dental implants include:
- Healthier gums and a lower risk of gum inflammation after the procedure because the zirconia resists plaque.
- Improved biocompatibility with the ceramic material, meaning you won’t have an allergic reaction like you can with titanium. This improved biocompatibility has also been associated with less of an inflammatory response and faster healing times.
- No galvanization, corrosion, metallic taste or chemical leaching because the implants are metal-free.
- A superior soft tissue response. The gums will grow more effectively around the implant and won’t recede like they occasionally can with titanium.
- Better aesthetics. While this point isn’t related to dental implant safety, it is an important consideration. Zirconia dental implants are tooth-colored so, unlike titanium dental implants, they won’t make your gum line look gray. When combined with our porcelain crowns, your replacement teeth will look entirely natural.
- Zirconia is durable and has a low thermal conductivity, so you won’t feel the hot and cold sensations that can cause discomfort and your implants won’t crack or fracture.
How We Make the Dental Implant Surgery Safe and Successful
While aftercare certainly plays a huge role in whether or not a dental implant procedure is successful, a doctor’s experience is also key. Dr. LaVacca is a board-certified Naperville prosthodontist, so in addition to completing dental school, he also underwent specialty training and a residency program, as well as the rigorous process of becoming board-certified. He has the training and knowledge to avoid dental implant problems and make sure his patients’ procedures are a success. In addition to Dr. LaVacca’s experience, here are some other ways we make the dental implant process safe at Naperville Dental Specialists:
All of Your Needs Under One Roof
We’re a multi-specialty practice and we even have our own in-house dental lab. Plus, Dr. LaVacca actually does the entire dental implant procedure from start to finish, including your consultation, placing the root form and cementing the porcelain crown. This eliminates the chance of miscommunication between practices or between dentist and surgeon, which can lead to inadvertent dental implant problems and the improper placement of implants.
High-Tech, Exhaustive Diagnostics and Treatment Planning
At your consultation, we perform a thorough review of your medical history since certain medical condition can affect your dental implants. Dr. LaVacca then examines your mouth and our team uses cutting-edge diagnostic technology. We rely on a three-dimensional CT scan to get a real-time view of your anatomy, including the location of your nerves, blood vessels and sinuses, as well as to evaluate your bone quality. The precision is unparalleled and allows for the proper placement of your dental implants. A two-dimensional x-ray just can’t give us the visual information we need to make sure the placement is ideal and safe, so, instead, we utilize i-CAT® imaging technology.
We also use digital, intraoral scanners like iTero® and 3Shape TRIOS® to take 3D images of your teeth, gums and jaws. Once Dr. LaVacca is ready to plan your procedure, he relies on the three-dimensional images we gathered, as well as CAD/CAM software to create a precise surgical guide. Not only will this mean less chair-time for you, it also enhances the safety of the dental implant procedure and can reduce your healing time.
There are more than 200 companies that make dental implant fixtures. Yet, only six of them have published test results and juried research that demonstrate the quality and safety of the product. Unfortunately, in an effort to offer cheap dental implants, some practices use substandard fixtures. This is dangerous and can cause infection, loose implants and, eventually, implant failure. At Naperville Dental Specialists, we only use proven, quality fixtures and we have options, such as zirconia dental implants, so patients can choose the best material for their needs.
So, the bottom line, are dental implants safe?
Absolutely. The benefits of dental implants far exceed the risks of the procedure if you are under the care of an experienced dental implant specialist and you follow the post-surgical instructions. For safe, successful dental implants or, if you’d like to correct dental implants that were placed elsewhere and failed, book a complimentary consultation with our Naperville prosthodontist. Your smile will be in good hands!