Are dental implants safe for everyone, and what are the risks?

Are dental implants safe for everyone, and what are the risks?

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Every medical process carries some amount of risk. Dental implants have been carried out for over 50 years and have more than a 90% success rate. But are they safe for everyone?

Dental implants are an area of the health industry that is particularly safe. The procedure has been widely studied and there is a wide body of knowledge about the risks around it. There are some people more susceptible to side effects, failure and problems arising from dental implants, but most problems are identified before the process starts and will have been discussed with the patient.

The worst thing that could happen would be failure of the implant to integrate with the bone. This could be due to a variety of factors.

What causes implant failure?

There are a number of causes of implant failure, some of which are entirely preventable.

Titanium is what the implant is made from. This is due to its biocompatibility and ability for the body to accept the metal, not reject it. However, if the mouth is extremely acidic, the implant may corrode. If this happens, and you have metal fillings in your mouth, this could cause galvanic corrosion[1].


Infections may occur following surgery, but patients are usually prescribed antibiotics after treatment to help avoid this occurring. If proper after-care is followed, this should not be a problem.

There is also the risk of tissue necrosis of the cells in the flaps of gum around the implant. This happens in 5% of cases. There is also the possibility that the gums next to the dental implant may recede, exposing the abutment that holds the tooth in place. Improper drilling protocols or over torqueing the implant may cause bone necrosis which could lead to implant failure.

Some people face higher risks due to health conditions. Diabetic patients, those with osteoporosis or undergoing chemotherapy or radiation for cancer may have slower healing. People suffering from blood and bleeding disorders may face excessive bleeding. Your dentist should be able to advise on your specific case and if actions can be taken to resolve or minimise risk of problems.

Dental implants are also capable of fracturing. This can happen in the implant itself or the tooth prosthesis. This could be due to poor positioning, overloading, or tooth grinding[1]. Screws can also loosen over time, with 59.6% of implants having experienced some form of abutment movement at the 15 year mark. Regular check-ups with your dentist can help prevent this, or resolve it when it starts to happen.


What are the negative effects of dental implants?

There is a small chance something could go wrong. The surgery can be a complex procedure and it could take up to six months to heal from date of surgery, which increases the chances of side effects and problems if patients don’t follow dentist precautions.

Nerve damage may occur, and this shows up very soon after surgery. In general, the implant is removed and the pain recedes. This is due to poor implant placement, and a good dentist should be able to avoid this.

Sometimes during surgery, there is damage to nearby structures such as sinuses, lingual plate, gingiva or inferior alveolar canal. These can lead to a variety of issues, but the chances of these happening are slim, and minimised by choosing a highly experienced surgeon.

Can dental implants make you sick?

There has been links made from dental implants and neurological problems, chronic fatigue syndrome and headaches. When the implants were removed, their symptoms stopped or eased. Some people are allergic or hypersensitive to metals, and implants may aggravate symptoms[1]. However the numbers of people who react to metals like this are unknown, and potentially small.

If you get an infection following surgery, it could make you sick, but this is quickly resolved if you seek help immediately.


Are dental implants unhealthy?

Dental implants are more likely to make you healthier. Because they give you a full set of teeth which are strong and robust, they open up the ability to have a full diet. With missing teeth, there is a risk that nutrition will be poor, which can lead to a range of health problems.

When speaking with your dentist about dental implants, ask them about the risks. They should be happy to speak on risks that particularly apply to you, and how they can mediate them.