How Can Dental Implants Go Wrong?

Dental care is an important part of our overall physical health. Starting in early childhood, we are taught the importance of brushing and flossing on a daily basis. It is also common to make routine visits to the dentist for cleanings, checkups, and other oral care. And, unfortunately, many children learn the consequences of developing cavities.

But as we age, dental problems can become more complex. People may chip teeth, crack teeth, or develop gum disease. Surgeries, crowns, root canals, tooth removal, and other forms of dental intervention may become necessary.

One technique that has gained popularity in recent times is the dental implant. Some people have found dental implants to be completely beneficial and life altering. Others have had unfortunate results. In this article, we will discuss how dental implants can go wrong.

What Is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is the replacement of a missing tooth through a surgical procedure. First, a metal post is inserted into the patient’s jaw bone and allowed time to fuse. This process is called osseointegration. Then, a piece called an abutment is attached to the post. (Sometimes, the insertion of the post and attachment of the abutment may take place in one step.) Finally, an artificial tooth, or crown, is attached to the abutment.

When Did Dental Implants Become Common?

There is evidence suggesting that attempts were made to replace missing teeth as far back as ancient times. However, it was not until the 20th century that the most important innovations took place. Starting in the 1980s, dental implants became a real possibility for ordinary people. 

Why Do People Get Dental Implants?

Tooth loss affects people in numerous ways, especially by making it hard to eat and chew. In the past, remedies to such problems mainly consisted of dentures and bridges.

Implants are an alternative to dentures and bridges that can result in less bone resorption and loss of natural tooth tissue that can occur with other alternatives. Many people also prefer dental implants for an improved smile and aesthetic appearance.

Dental Implant Problems

Let’s start with the good news - the overall success rate of dental implant surgery is very high.

However, things do sometimes go wrong. Some potential problems are discussed below.

  • Tissue or nerve problems: If a dental implant is located too close to a nerve, it can create ongoing pain, tingling, or numbness. The numbness occurs on the side of the face with the implant and can also occur in the chin and lower lip.
  • Peri-implantitis: This is a type of gum disease in which the bone containing the implant suffers loss. It can take several years for this condition to develop.
  • Sinus problems: If an implant in the upper jaw is made to protrude into the sinus cavity, it can cause sinusitis. This can create numerous uncomfortable symptoms, such as headaches, reduced sense of smell, toothache, nasal mucous, and tenderness, swelling, and pain around the eyes, forehead, and cheeks.
  • Lack of expertise: Some dentists attempt dental implants in difficult patients, even when they do not have the necessary expertise. This can result in a variety of poor outcomes.

Finally, problems can arise from errors in choosing the proper implants, or improper surgical placement. In the event that surgical errors constitute a violation of the accepted standard of care, the error may even rise to the level of malpractice.

Call with Questions

If you have had failure, complications, or other issues with your dental implants, you will likely have questions about your legal rights. The experienced dental malpractice attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield will be happy to answer them. Please call us for a free consultation. We represent clients all over Oregon and take pride in making sure that our clients obtain the compensation that they deserve. We believe that the only way to keep society safe for everyone is to hold professionals accountable for their negligent behavior.


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