Signs of Dental Implant Failure: What to Watch Out For

signs of dental implant failure

Are the signs of dental implant failure easy to catch? Luckily, yes! Failed dental implants always show pretty evident warning signs, even in the starting stages of the failure. It’s on the patient to be keen and spot these signs at the very outset and take appropriate measures to prevent them from worsening.

In other words, early detection is equivalent to cure when it comes to dental implant failure. Therefore, every implant recipient (or soon-to-be recipient) needs to know exactly which red flags to watch out for. It’s also equally important for them to know the causes/risk factors for implant failure so they can prevent it from occurring altogether.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the signs and causes of dental implant failure so you may have a deep insight into this rare (but real) complication of dental implants.

What Is Meant By Dental Implant Failure?

Before understanding its signs and risk factors, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what implant failure is in the first place.

Implant failure basically refers to a situation where dental implants (metal posts that are surgically drilled into the jawbone to replace missing teeth) fail to heal and fuse with the jawbone tissue surrounding them. This fusion of implants with the jawbone – achieved by a process called osseointegration – is necessary for implant success and for the placement and retention of artificial teeth onto them. When this fusion is not achieved (and this could happen for several reasons), the implants start showing signs of failure, which need to be addressed immediately.

Fortunately, a failed implant doesn’t mean that it cannot be treated or saved – there’s a possibility of saving a failed dental implant depending upon the cause (and the extent) of the failure. This is why prevention of the causes and early detection are crucial factors in determining an implant’s long-term survival.

What Are The Chances Of Dental Implants Getting Failed?

This is a very good question to ask, and the answer will most likely put your mind at ease. Implant dentures are very successful as a teeth replacement option, boasting an unparalleled success rate of 90-95% recorded over ten years. The remaining (almost negligible) 5-10% cases, however, constitute the dental implant failure cases.

This failure rate is still very low compared to that of other dental restorative treatments, such as crowns and bridges. Dental crowns, for instance, have a failure rate of 20%, which is much greater than the mere 5-10% failure rate of implants. This greater reliability of implants is one of the reasons why they’re getting increasingly popular among patients as a modern teeth replacement option, surpassing all traditional teeth replacement treatments.

Regardless of how small the risk of failure is, it’s still there, so it’s good to be proactive and educate yourself about it. Doing so will help you tackle the situation without panicking if it arises.

Causes/Risk Factors For Dental Implant Failure 

There are certain causes for dental implant failure (many of which are preventable if good care is taken to prevent them). Also, certain risk factors don’t directly cause the failure but may increase the likelihood of its occurrence. These include:

  • Placing implants at the wrong angle causes issues in their integration with the jawbone.
  • Attaching the prosthesis (artificial teeth) too early to the implants, creating extra pressure on them which hinders their osseointegration.
  • Bruxism, a condition where excessive pressure is exerted on the gums due to constant teeth grinding, making it difficult for implants to fuse with the jawbone.
  • Osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions. In these conditions, the bones become brittle, and their density is highly compromised, making it difficult for the jawbone to retain the implants.
  • Peri-Implantitis, generally known as implant infection. It causes deterioration of the gum tissues surrounding the implants, decreasing their ability to fuse with the implants.
  • Poor oral hygiene, as it causes an accumulation of plaque and pathogenic bacteria in the mouth, leading to implant infections.
  • Smoking as it compromises the implant’s healing process.

Signs Of Implant Failure To Watch Out For

Finally, having understood all the basics of dental implant failure, it’s time to look at its warning signs so you may recognize them as they appear and address them as soon as possible. These signs include:

Shooting Pain Near Implants 

Mild discomfort after implant surgery is a normal (and healthy) part of the implant healing process, but there’s clearly something wrong if you’re experiencing an unbearable, shooting kind of pain after surgery. One way of distinguishing between normal (healing-related) pain and abnormal (failure-related) pain is that the normal pain is mild and subsides on its own a few days after surgery, but the abnormal pain is excruciating and doesn’t subside even when you take painkillers.

Inflammation + Gum Recession 

Both of these are very serious and evident signs of dental implant failure. Implants that are failing usually trigger an inflammatory response in the surrounding gum tissue, and if this inflammation continues, it eventually leads to gum recession near implants. A good way to identify this is to carefully observe your gums in the mirror, if you notice that your prosthesis (artificial teeth) look unusually long, then it’s a clear indication of gum recession.

Inability To Chew And Bite

Dental implants are designed to give you a comfortable replacement for your natural teeth. Hence, they’re meant to make chewing/biting easy for you, not otherwise. If you think your permanent dentures are making it difficult for you to chew and bite down on foods, causing pain or discomfort as you eat, then it means your implants are probably failing.

Mobility Of Implants

As we’ve discussed already, dental implant failure (by definition) refers to the phenomenon when implants are unable to fuse with the surrounding jawbone. This implies that failed implants would move in your mouth (owing to their inability to fuse with the surrounding tissue). A moving implant, therefore, is the most prominent and the easiest sign of implant failure to watch out for.

Unexplained Mouth Allergies 

If you don’t have a history of mouth allergies and suddenly start experiencing allergic symptoms after implant surgery, then it signals implant failure. It could be because your body is rejecting the implant material (though all implant materials are biocompatible and perfectly healthy for the body) for some reason and is triggering an allergic reaction as a consequence of that rejection. This failure of your body to accept the implants makes it impossible for implants to fuse with the jawbone, leading to a potential implant failure.

If you experience any of the abovementioned signs, report them to your implant surgeon as soon as possible without wasting time hoping for the signs to resolve on their own. Your surgeon would decide the future course of action for the treatment of the failed implants.


Dental implant failure is, fortunately, a rare complication, occurring in only 5-10% of all implant cases. However, it’s still a possibility that patients shouldn’t brush off. Knowing the warning signs of implant failure would help patients take timely action against a potentially failing implant, helping them receive the appropriate treatment for it. 

If you want to get your implant surgery done with exceptional accuracy, book a FREE consultation with Pittsburgh Implants Clinic, situated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our team of expert surgeons will make sure you get absolutely safe and reliable implant surgery, alleviating your concerns about experiencing implant failure.

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