If you've recently gotten dental implants, no doubt you're happy to have teeth that you don't have to remove. Implants are among the more common cosmetic and functional dentistry procedures performed today, but sometimes the implants don't take to a jaw that well. Reasons can run from poor bone structure to post-operative trauma, but regardless of the reason, a failing implant needs to be handled immediately. Here are three signs you need to look for to determine if your implants need attention fast.
Pain and Other Signs of Infection
Implants are added via surgery, so there's always a risk that the area around the implant could become infected. If you notice the classic signs of an infection -- pain, redness, swelling -- get back to your dentist immediately. Sometimes an infection isn't a direct sign of a failing implant, but if you don't take care of the infection, it can lead to bone loss and thus make the implant fail. Plus, any infection in your head is too close to your eyes, ears, and brain for comfort. You do not want the infection to spread.
Smells and Tastes
Bad smells and odd tastes, including metallic tastes, are also signs of a failing implant. Bad smells are usually from an infection, and you may or may not see other visual signs of an infection along with the smell. A bad taste can be due to minor amounts of pus leaking out or exposure of part of the sub-crown implant. If the implant is working its way out of your jaw or if part of the crown has broken, you need to get to your dentist immediately. Broken crowns can be replaced if the implant screw itself and your jaw are both fine.
A third sign of a failing implant is a feeling that the implant is mobile. You could see the crown itself wobbling, but sometimes the feeling itself is much more subtle, a sense that the screw in your jaw is somehow loose. It could be that you had less bone in that area than originally thought, which would allow the screw to loosen. You could also be experiencing additional bone loss due to other reasons such as jaw clenching.
Your dentist will do his or her best to get rid of infection, replace broken crowns, and do whatever else is needed to save the implant. If the jaw does not have enough bone or if your body just outright rejects the metal implant screw, your dentist can discuss other options such as dentures with you.