Dental Implant Infections: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

April 30, 2024
608 Views

If a dental implant gets infected, it can cause inflammation in the gums and bone around it. This condition is called peri-implantitis. It’s like gum disease, but specifically around an implant. Signs of such dental implant infections include gums that bleed easily, swollen or tender gums around the implant, and deeper gaps around the implant.

How Common Is Infection After Dental Implant?

Just like with any surgery, there’s always a small chance of getting an infection after dental implants, but it’s not very common. Studies show that about 4-10 out of every 100 people might get an infection after the surgery. If it happens, antibiotics can usually help to get rid of the infection.

Types of Implant Infections?

Two main types of infections can happen with dental implants.

  • Perio-Implant Mucositis:
    This occurs when bacteria attack the soft tissue around the implant, like the gums. If you see red, bleeding, or swollen gums around your implant, it’s important to see your dentist right away. This type of infection is usually treatable and can be reversed with proper care.
  • Peri-Implantitis:
    If peri-implant mucositis isn’t treated, it can turn into peri-implantitis. This is when the infection spreads from the soft tissue to the bone around the implant. As the infection damages the bone, the implant can become loose. In serious cases, the infection can spread through the bloodstream and cause other health problems. Surgery is often needed to fix peri-implantitis.

How Do Dentists Diagnose Dental Implant Infections?

When you have a dental implant infection, the dentist will perform an X-ray to see how bad the infection is. They might also gently probe around the area to check for any signs of infection. Since this kind of infection often doesn’t hurt, patients might not realize they have it.

The dentist will also ensure the inflammation isn’t caused by anything else, like leftover cement from the implant procedure. In the first year after the implant, symptoms could also be from the bone grafting process, so the dentist will look at all possibilities to find the cause of the infection.

Ways to Treat the Implant Infection

When a dental implant gets infected, how it’s treated depends on how much bone has been lost and how it affects the way the implant looks. The first step is to clean the surface of the infected implant and try to regrow any lost bone with a bone graft if possible. This can be done with different methods, like surgery or special cleaning techniques:

  • Local Cleaning: This means cleaning around the implant to remove any infection.
  • Cleaning the Implant Surface: Special methods are used to clean the surface of the implant.
  • Using Anti-Infection Treatment: Medicines or treatments are used to fight the infection.

In severe cases, the implant might need to be removed. Antibiotics might be enough for mild infections. However, for serious infections, surgery might be needed to thoroughly clean the implant. The treatment depends on factors like the type of implant, where it is, and how much bone has been lost.

Final Thought

The initial healing process after dental implant surgery takes a few weeks. Although dental implant infections are rare, they are still possible. Therefore, be mindful of aftercare to make your dental implants a success.

Visit our board-certified periodontist, Dr. E. Todd Scheyer, at Perio Health Professionals. Our doctor focuses on perio-prosthetic reconstruction and periodontal regeneration. Call us at (713) 783-5442 to book an appointment.

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