The most common causes of implant failure are poor oral hygiene, history of periodontitis, and smoking. If tooth cleaning is poor, bacteria will build up on the implant surface and cause inflammation of the mucous membrane surrounding the implant – this is known as peri-implant mucositis. If left untreated, mucositis can progress to a more dangerous condition called peri-implantitis, in which there is greater inflammation and bone around the implant is lost. Eventually, the implant loses its anchorage in the bone and becomes loose, which means it will have to be replaced – and this could require additional surgery to restore the lost bone.
It is important to note that peri-implant diseases can develop and damage tissues and bone much more rapidly than is the case with periodontitis. In addition, peri-implantitis is usually much more difficult to treat than periodontitis.
Having periodontitis increases the risk of complications with dental implants. For this reason, not only must a patient be free of periodontitis before an implant can be placed, but they also need to keep their gums and natural teeth healthy to avoid any recurrence of the disease. In patients with periodontitis around 22% of implants develop peri-implantitis. So, good oral hygiene at home and regular check-ups with your dentist, periodontist, or dental hygienist are essential.
It may not always be easy for you to detect when mucositis or peri-implantitis is present. Warning signs include:
- Increased tendency for the gums to bleed during brushing and interdental cleaning.
- Swelling of the gums.
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.
- The loosening of the implant, bridge, or dentures.
Regular check-up visits with your dentist will help ensure that any problems are picked up early and thus help prevent the onset of peri-implant mucositis or peri-implantitis. If you notice any signs of inflammation around your implant, it is vital you make an appointment with your dentist or periodontist as quickly as possible.