Although dental implantation is secured in the realm of safe and routine surgeries, sometimes things can go wrong. Aside from foreseeable problems with oral health and bone density issues, covered in our dental implant rejection article, one of the most common things to happen is an infection occurring in the implantation site or in the tissue surrounding the implant. This can be due to oral hygiene issues of the patient, can be caused by improperly sterilized implants, and a host of other possibilities as well.
Most often, the issue that causes the infection is bacteria in the implantation site, taking hold and starting to grow, causing pain, swelling and ultimately implant failure. Usually this happen immediately, or within the healing time of the implant in question. If infection does occur, usually the site will need to be reimplanted. This means the implant is uncovered, taken out, and the site of the area will need to be cleaned. Currently it seems like antibiotics are not an option for curing this type of infection, so cleaning needs to be done manually, or sometimes even surgically if too much of the tissue is infected.
The infection usually occurs right after implantation; sadly, however, it can occur at any time. The gum and periodontal tissue around the implant can become lax or can suffer injury, leaving some space between the implant and the periodontal tissue. It does not need to be visible, as bacteria are microscopic; the smallest fissure can be enough for bacteria to start breeding. This is increasingly troublesome if you already have dental work on the implant, a crown or a bridge or God forbid an overdenture. It means that all of your dental work that is on the infected implant site needs to be removed, the implant needs to be removed, the infection needs to be cured, a course of antibiotics needs to be taken, only then can reimplantation occur, after which the dental prostheses can be reattached to the implant. Worst of all, no denture can be worn while the site is healing, as taxing the implantation site will cause further infection. The time frame involved depends on the severity of the infection, but a three week minimum to a 4-5 month maximum can be expected, with severe cases sometimes needing even longer to fully heal before the original dental work can be reinstated.
The only way to prevent such things from happening is to be meticulous about at home dental care, and flossing often in order to prevent calculus from accumulating. It is also essential to see a dentist every six months for a checkup, and having hygiene sessions carried out by a trained medical professional as often as needed, as only at home dental care is not a guarantee against infections. Patients with dental prostheses and implants need to be extra careful, and the check ups are absolutely obligatory. As these infections also cause implant rejection, the longevity of the dental implants and the implantation sites are jeopardized by insufficient oral hygiene, so these infections, aside from being painful and causing the removal of dental work, are also quite costly.