Overall, dental implants have a very high rate of success, and a very long life. In fact, most long-term studies aren’t long enough to determine the true lifetime of dental implants. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks to dental implants and reasons why they sometimes fail early.
The biggest threat to dental implants is peri-implantitis, which may be just gum disease that develops around implants or it may be a special illness–researchers disagree.
We’re also trying to figure out what causes some implants to develop peri-implantitis, and what we might be able to do to prevent it. Now a new study from Sweden gives us a much better idea about what increases risk of peri-implantitis. And it turns out that placement of implants by general dentists might be a big part of it.
High Rates of Peri-Implantitis
There has been too little study on peri-implantitis, and, especially, too few of the larger studies that can really show us vital information about the condition. In this new study, 588 dental implant patients were examined an average of 9 years after placement of their dental implants. The exam included both a visual and physical inspection of dental implants and x-rays to show the level of bone around the implants.
Researchers used a pretty strict definition of peri-implantitis. It included bleeding on probing and as little as 1/50th of an inch of bone loss. Using this definition, nearly half of the people (45%) had peri-implantitis. About 14.5% of individuals had severe peri-implantitis, using a definition that included bone loss of about 1/13th of an inch. .
Although these rates may sound high, it’s important to remember that these are clinical measurements, not functional ones. Despite bone loss, most of these dental implants, even those classified as having “severe” peri-implantitis, will continue to function for years, possibly even decades.
But there’s still some concern, because these implants might not function as well, and they might fail early. That’s why we work to reduce the risk of peri-implantitis.
In addition to finding the high rates of peri-implantitis, researchers analyzed the prevalence of the disease to determine what risk factors likely contributed to it. They found that risks were increased by:
- 15 times the risk: Having four or more implants
- 4 times the risk: Having gum disease
- 4 times the risk: Implant placed by generalist
They also found that some brands of dental implants were associated with higher peri-implantitis risk than others.
It makes sense, of course, that if you have more dental implants, you’re more likely to develop an infection of one or more of them. And if you have gum disease around your teeth, it seems likely that it would infect your dental implants, too.
But it is striking that having an implant placed by a general dentist could have a similarly high risk factor. This is not a huge surprise to us–that’s why we use a specialist to place our attractive dental implants. Dr. Tina Beck is a board-certified periodontist, a specialist in the treatment of the gums and bones that surround and support teeth–and dental implants. She is very highly trained in the placement of dental implants, and helps us ensure great results for our patients.
If you would like to learn more about the ways we strive to provide the best results with dental implants in San Diego, please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment with an implant dentist at Strober Dental.