A loose or painful dental implant may be an indication of peri-implantitis, a destructive inflammatory process affecting the soft and hard tissues surrounding dental implants. Although dental implants are documented to have over a 90% success rate, peri-implantitis continues to remain the major cause for implant failure. Peri-implantitis has many forms and different stages, with treatment recommendations relying heavily on the knowledge and skill of your dental clinician. Some clinicians believe that implants can not be saved after a certain degree of bone-loss has occurred while others have shown great success through the use of regenerative materials and/or nonsurgical procedures.
The image above is an example of a patient that was referred to our office for loose and painful dental implant #31. Upon further evaluation, there were several areas of concern noted with varying degrees of peri-implantitis. Unfortunately, implant #31 could not be saved and required surgical removal with bone grafting, but what about the adjacent implants #29 and #30?
Below are pre- and post treatment radiographs demonstrating bone regeneration at adjacent implant #30:
It is my opinion and clinical experience that peri-implantitis is a treatable disease and some failing implants can be saved. Whether the recommendation be through a surgical or non surgical approach, you should at least be given the option to try! If you have been told that your implant needs to be removed, consider getting a second opinion from a dental team that specializes in the surgical and non surgical treatment of peri-implant diseases!
Shavonne Healy, MSDH, RDH, ICP is a registered dental hygienist and implant care practitioner at Kazemi Oral Surgery & Dental Implants