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Updated on December 12, 2022
6 min read

Who is Responsible for Dental Implant Failure?

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Dental implants are an excellent solution for tooth replacement. Millions of people are missing one or more teeth, which can affect how they speak, eat, and smile. Implants can correct those problems.

The success rate of dental implants is around 95%.1 While it’s rare for one to fail, complications can arise. If your dental implant fails, it may be due to one of several causes. It may or may not be at the fault of the dentist who installed it.

Dental Implants Overview

Dental implants are the closest replacement to a natural tooth. The implant acts as the tooth root and a dental crown replaces the existing tooth.

dental implant NewMouth

Besides being the most permanent option to replace a missing tooth, dental implants also serve many aesthetic and functional needs, including:

  • Support for your existing jawbone and gums to prevent further receding and deteriorating 
  • Offer the most natural look of any restoration
  • Restoration of permanent tooth function with no mobility like a denture
  • Freedom from tooth decay, meaning they can’t develop new cavities like dental crowns 
  • Maintenance of a more youthful appearance by filling in the jaw and face

What is the Failure Rate of Dental Implants?

Dental implants, like any dental treatment, can fail. However, among the range of dental prosthetics, implants have one of the lowest failure rates.

The implant failure rate is around 5%. Studies show that only 1 in 20 patients may experience dental implant failure. This is a low failure rate compared to most procedures, and dental implants are usually worth the risk. 

Who is Ultimately Responsible for Dental Implant Failure?

Though the dental implant success rate is high compared to other dental procedures, dental implants can fail for various reasons. 

It is important to discuss the reasons for failure with your dental professional before implant placement. Implants are a costly and timely investment, and while beneficial to your oral health, it is best to know common reasons for failures and how to prevent them. 

Some causes of dental implant failure are natural, but others can be due to malpractice on the part of your dentist. 

Failures That Indicate Dental Malpractice

In rare cases, your dentist may be responsible for your dental implant failure. Knowing the possible causes can help you determine whether dental malpractice is involved.

The most common causes of implant failure attributed to dental malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis, which can lead to incorrect assessment and treatment plans
  • Failure to explain the risks or contraindications of implants
  • Failure to obtain lack of informed consent from the patient
  • Failure to obtain a complete medical history from the patient
  • Incorrect administration of medications or antibiotics
  • Use of improperly sterilized tools
  • Lack of appropriate follow-up care

Other Common Causes of Dental Implant Failure

Your dentist may have done everything right, and your dental implants still failed. Other causes can result in a failure, including:

  • Poor oral hygiene, which can result in a bacterial infection
  • Gum disease
  • Lack of sufficient jawbone to hold the posts, such as from osteoporosis
  • Being a smoker
  • Constant grinding of the teeth, or bruxism
  • Auto-immune disease
  • Certain medications that can inhibit bone growth
  • Failure to maintain recommended hygiene after procedure

What are the Signs of Dental Implant Failure?

Osseointegration is an integral process that ensures the implant is successfully anchored and integrated into the bone. Without osseointegration, there is no long-term success of the implant, and it can fail.

There are early and late signs of dental implant failure. If you recently had implant surgery, you may notice signs indicating the implant is not successfully osseointegrating. 

Implant failure can occur even 10 years after placement. Common signs of failing implants include:

  • Gum inflammation and swelling
  • Gum recession and tissue loss
  • Bleeding
  • Mobile dental crown or implant
  • Severe pain when chewing

How to Prevent Dental Implant Failure

The best way to prevent an implant failure is to plan your treatment out with your dentist in advance. Some dentists use advanced 3-D technology to create surgical guides so that an implant is placed precisely to prevent failure.

Speak to your dentist about any smoking or alcohol habits and disclose your full medical history and medications. Discuss any concerns you may have that can cause a potential implant failure and how you can plan to prevent one. 

Follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions by abiding to a soft food diet, avoiding smoking, and maintaining excellent oral hygiene. Also, make sure to plan for follow-up appointments.

When to See Your Dentist

A few days after your dental implant surgery, you will schedule a follow-up to ensure you’re healing properly. X-rays can also help clinically determine an implant’s success.  

Once your implant and crown are placed, you should schedule routine exams with your dentist to maintain good oral health.

You should contact your dentist for an emergency visit if you experience severe pain, bleeding, swelling, implant mobility, or fever. 

What to Do If You Suspect Dental Malpractice

If you believe your dental implant failure resulted from dental malpractice, you should contact a qualified malpractice lawyer immediately. 

Dentists are held to a specific standard of care, and if they have not upheld that, you may be entitled for compensation.

Treatment for a Failed Dental Implant 

Your dentist must remove a failed dental implant.  You will need to address the underlying cause of the failure. Treatment always involves extracting the failed implant.

After removing a failed implant, your gums and bone need time to heal. It can take up to 6 months or more for the area to heal properly before another implant can be placed. 

Depending on the site of the implant, you may need additional surgery, like a bone graft or sinus augmentation, for more support and stability. 

Once the reason for the failed implant is discovered, a new implant can usually be placed and have a high success rate. If you are not a good candidate for another dental implant, you may be eligible for a dental prosthetic like a bridge or removable appliance. 

Risks of Not Fixing a Failed Dental Implant

Neglecting to remove or replace a failed implant can have oral health ramifications. Unlike teeth which have nerves and can signal when there is pain, an implant does not have any nerves or blood vessels. Instead, when an infection occurs, your implant may become mobile, causing pain and bone loss.

An untreated, failed dental implant can lead to localized or generalized inflammation and infection. This may cause significant bone loss leading to poorer success for implants in the future. An infection may also require antibiotics to avoid systemic infection and medical complications. 

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Dental Implant?

The cost of implants varies significantly based on how many implants and the type of dental restoration. They may cost up to $5,000 per implant.

If your implant fails, you may be responsible for replacing it at near or the same cost as your initial investment.

Many dentists will discuss their fees upfront, so you are aware of the costs if you need to fix a dental implant. 

Can I Get a Refund?

If an implant fails because of the dentist’s error, you may be entitled to some refund or compensation. 

Otherwise, if it fails because of poor oral hygiene, a smoking habit, or an uncontrolled medical condition, you are responsible for the costs of fixing your implant.

Summary

Dental implants are a prosthetic replacement for a missing tooth. They have a high overall success rate, but they can sometimes fail due to natural causes or malpractice by your dentist. 

Treating a failed dental implant always involves extracting the implant, or else it can become infected. You can help prevent an implant failure by mapping out a treatment plan with your dentist, being honest in your medical history, and following their aftercare instructions closely.

Last updated on December 12, 2022
4 Sources Cited
Last updated on December 12, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Raikar, S., et al. “Factors affecting the survival rate of dental implants: a retrospective study.” Journal of International Society of Preventative and Community Dentistry, National Library of Medicine, 2017.
  2. Pyo S-W, et al. “Methods used to assess the 3D accuracy of dental implant positions in computer-guided implant placement: a review.” Journal of Clinical Medicine, MDPI, 2018.
  3. Putra, R.H., et al. “Influence of bone condition on implant placement accuracy with computer-guided surgery.” International Journal of Implant Dentistry, BioMed Central Ltd, 2020.
  4. Chatzistavrianou, D., et al. “A guide to implant dentistry part 2: surgical and prosthodontic considerations.” Dental Update, MAG Online Library, 2019.
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