Correcting A Loose Dental Implant

The vast majority of dental implant procedures are completed without major side-effects or complications, but every once in a while, the implant fails to integrate fully and becomes loose. You may notice the tooth sliding when you bite into hard foods, or you may even be able to wiggle it by hand. Either way, a loose implant indicates that something is not right with the post or implant screw, and you should have it examined and corrected before it can cause further damage. These are four possible causes of a loose implant to go over with your dentist. 

Checking the Surgical Site has Healed

Trauma to the gums, jaw bone or implant itself during surgery can all contribute to looseness later on. If the damage was significant, or if harmful bacteria entered the incision, it may have impacted your ability to heal and can even lead to severe infection. This delays the incorporation of the implant post into the jaw bone, perhaps permanently, which is why you should closely monitor your surgical site for swelling, inflammation or drainage during your recovery process. 

Tightening the Implant's Screw

In other cases, a loose implant is caused by an improperly secured screw. This screw is what connects the crown to the post, attaching it to its anchor in your jaw.  The cement used to hold the screw in place may have deteriorated, or the screw may have been broken by blunt trauma. Whatever the cause, you may need to replace just the screw, but the crown or post may also have been compromised. Your dentist will inspect the site to get a better understanding of your individual circumstances. 

Promoting Osseointegration

Osseointegration takes advantage of natural self-repair mechanisms in your bones to encourage your body to accept an implant and anchor it to the bone like living tissue. Sometimes, however, this process doesn't work, and your jaw bone never grows around the post to hold it in place. This can be due to infection, a weak immune system, poor blood supply or insufficient bone density, and it is often treatable through bone grafts. Unfortunately, this typically requires replacing your existing implant with a new one. 

Replacing the Implant

Once your dentist has decided that the implant needs replacing, it is usually a quicker and easier process than the initial drilling and installation. You may undergo a bone graft or other treatment to cure the underlying problem before the new implant is installed. After the operation, monitor your implant carefully for several weeks or months to ensure that it has anchored itself properly. If the problem persists, contact your dentist to examine the issue more deeply and assess whether or not dental implants are right for you.