Dental implant infection signs and how to know when you need to see a dentist

Dental implant infection signs and how to know when you need to see a dentist

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An infection in a dental implant is common. It doesn’t mean disaster, but you should visit your dentist immediately to prevent pain and avoid implant failure.

What is a tooth infection?

A tooth infection is when bacteria enters the mouth, through food, drink, or the environment. Then, it enters through a wound/ opening in the gums and assisted by poor oral care, the bacteria starts multiplying. These bacteria cause a variety of symptoms and will spread to infect more tissue. When an infection occurs around an implant, this is called peri-implantitis.

Those people with suppressed immune systems, such as diabetics, are more prone to infections.

What happens if a dental implant gets infected?

Dental implant infections are not rare, with some practitioners reporting peri-implantitis at rates of up to 56%[1]. This is why dentists often prescribe a course of antibiotics after surgery, and also medicated or non-medicated mouthwashes. Patients are also advised of risk factors and advised to stop smoking to decrease the risk of infection.

If the infection is not treated, it can lead to loss of the implant[2]. Worst case scenario, it could cause you to lose other teeth, it could weaken your jawbone, or require a section of the jawbone to be removed. If untreated over a long period, the infection can spread to your sinuses, or even other parts of your body and cause septicaemia. This is why it’s so important to seek help immediately if you suspect an infection.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25185675

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31407443

What are the signs of a dental infection?

There are a variety of symptoms of a dental infection. You may experience some of these, but probably not all of them.

An infection may emit a bad smell and taste. This does not improve after brushing and flossing.

If you notice bleeding or pus in the gums and around the implant, it’s an infection. Even if this occurs when you brush, it could still be problematic.

As your body tries to fight off the bacteria, the area around the infection will get hot and swollen. Your body temperature may rise too.

While some pain should be expected in the surgery site for up to a week after the procedure, if it persists or gets worse, this could be a sign of infection.

If the problem has persisted for a while, it may progress and cause the implant to loosen. It could become wobbly and feel like it’s moving around.

Whether this is due to pain or movement of the implant, you shouldn’t experience problems chewing once the implant has healed. If you are, it could be a sign of infection.

What do you do if you think you have a tooth implant infection?

Call your dentist straight away. Make an appointment and tell them you think there is an infection. They can make a decision around treatment, and the cause of the problem.

There are a range of ways they treat this:

  • Implant removal
  • A course of antibiotics
  • Medicated mouthwash
  • Cleaning the area around the implant
  • LAPIP Laser Assisted Peri-Implant Procedure could be performed

An infection doesn’t always mean disaster. The implant can often be saved, if caught early enough[1]. Your dentist wants your implant to be successful. They will make the best choice for your long-term implant health and help to ensure you avoid infections in future. Even if you just think something is wrong, call your dentist to ask. The health of your dental implant is too important to risk.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25185675