What Could Cause a Dental Implant to Loosen?

If you have dental implants that seem to move a bit when you touch them, you need to get them looked at immediately. Dental implants are not supposed to move. If you leave them alone, the problem causing them to become mobile will only get worse. Plus, if they move at the wrong time when you bite down, you could harm the implant or the teeth around the implant. Treatment for a loose implant depends on the cause.

Defective Hardware

One of the easier causes to fix is defective hardware. The crown may be cracking, but this is relatively simple to fix by just replacing the crown. The implant screw could be defective as well. It is safe to assume that you will need surgery to have the defective implant removed and then either get a new implant or get a bone graft to let the area heal and prevent bone loss. After that, you may be able to get another implant. The good news is that, once the defective hardware is replaced, you should have no new problems. 

Defective Implantation

Another cause is defective implantation -- in other words, the procedure was done incorrectly. If the crown was not installed properly, but the base was, a simple crown replacement should work. But, if the base was not implanted properly, you will likely have to go through the removal and bone-grafting process again. As terrible as that may sound on paper, it would be worse to let the loose implant remain in your mouth.

Bone Loss

Another possibility is bone loss, which can occur even if the implant was added correctly using hardware that was in great shape. Bone loss can occur if you clench your jaws all the time; it can also result from infections, particularly as part of a syndrome called peri-implantitis. In peri-implantitis, a sub-gumline infection occurs (and usually clears up with medication), and then the bone begins to recede where the infection was. The bad news is that dentists are still unsure what causes peri-implantitis (whether the infection leads to the bone loss or vice versa), but the good news is that there are milder warning signs that you can spot. Peri-implant mucositis looks like gingivitis -- red, swollen, bleeding gums -- and you can successfully treat it with the help of your dentist, thus staving off peri-implantitis.

Contact your dentist immediately about your loose implant and any time you see redness or swelling.