A dental implant is an artificial tooth and, just like natural teeth, they can become infected if neglected. The most common implant infection is peri-implantitis. This gum disease is an inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding a dental implant. So, how else and why can your dental implants become infected?
What Causes Peri-implantitis?
Dental implant infection can be a result of the following:
- Bad oral hygiene
- Bite misalignment
- Smoking tobacco
- Compromised immune system
- Involuntary or habitual teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Poor quality of implant material
- Allergic reaction to the dental implant
A dental implant infection can present itself right after implant, or it could be months or years later. If left untreated, peri-implantitis can progress to bone loss and implant failure.
What are the Symptoms of Dental Implant Infection?
To check if your dental implants are infected, look for the following signs:
Loose or wobbly implant
If your dentist did not use titanium, then your dental implant is most likely made of lesser quality. This can lead to potential infection problems. If your implant is wobbly or loose and feels like it’s going to fall out, it needs to be replaced before infection sets in.
Red or swollen gums
If the gums around the implant are red and swollen, it could be an indication of dental implant infection.
Bad breath and icky taste
Dental implant infection is often characterized by bad breath and a horrible taste. If the bad smell does not go away after brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash, or if you suddenly taste something icky, your dental implant might be infected.
Fever and throbbing pain
Fever is always a sign of infection. Most bacterial infections are accompanied by fever as your body tries to fight it off. It is also common to experience throbbing pain in the implant area.
Many people experience bleeding around the gums and implant area when brushing. If your gums easily bleed with the slightest probe, however, it could be a cause for concern.
Like a fever, the presence of pus is always an indicator of infection. If you notice a nasty discharge around the gums or implant area, your dental implant is most likely infected.
Titanium implants are sturdy and easily blend into your gum line and jawbone so you can chew as you would with natural teeth. Implants that are made of poor quality material might give you trouble chewing even if it is not infected.
How to Diagnose an Infected Dental Implant
Your dentist should be able to diagnose dental implant infection through the following methods:
- Take a dental x-ray of the implant
- Probe around the implant to check for inflammation
Early detection is absolutely necessary in order to save an infected implant. Sometimes pain does not manifest right away so patients are not aware that an implant is infected until it is too late.
How to Treat a Dental Implant Infection
Treatment options depend on the level of infection. These may include:
- Special mouth rinses
- Laser therapy with surface decontamination
- Mechanical debridement
- Antimicrobial therapy
The first step in treating a dental implant infection is to thoroughly clean the surface of the implant. Next is to disinfect the area. If the bone loss around the dental implant is between 2mm and 4mm, antibiotics should take care of the problem. In more serious cases where bone loss is severe, surgical intervention may be required as a fourth step.
An infected dental implant can lead to more serious health issues such as damage to the heart and other body organs. The earlier an infection is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of saving it.
Visit Your NY Dentist Regularly
If you have dental implants, be sure to visit your dentist every six months. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact Smiles NY at (888) 353-7165 immediately!