When you received your dental implant, you probably thought that the problem of your missing tooth had been solved. This is true for most people, but in rare cases, there can be a problem with the initial attempt at placing the implant. If this happens to your dental implant, a wait-and-see approach isn't going to be of any use (and can make the problem worse). So what happens when your dental implant has to be removed?

Why an Implant Might Need to Be Removed

There are many reasons why the first placement of a dental implant might not be successful:

  • It's often due to peri-implantitis, which is the term for any type of infection around the site of the implant. This can happen when the patient fails to maintain their oral hygiene after implant placement. 
  • It can also be that your bone density was lacking, so that the implant didn't have a stable base, and you should have received bone grafting prior to implant placement. 
  • It could also be a miscalculation when it came to the type of implant, along with its position. There could also have been a manufacturing flaw in one of the implant's components.

Whatever the reason, the implant needs to be removed and replaced.

Removing the Implant

The removal of an implant is actually quite quick and easy for a dentist with the necessary training and equipment (such as a counter-torque ratchet). It's simply rotated (unscrewed) out of your jaw. You will be given local anesthesia prior to the removal. Additional specific methods might be required, depending on the design and placement of the implant. Although rare, surgical removal can be necessary in complicated cases. 

Replacing the Implant

Once the implant has been successfully removed, the site can be thoroughly inspected, and a decision can be made about what happens next: 

  • When there is no infection and the density of the supporting bone is acceptable, a new implant can be placed immediately. 
  • When infection is present, this must be treated (with antibiotics), and once the infection has subsided, a new implant can be installed. 
  • When the lack of bone density contributed to the failure of the implant, bone grafting (followed by sufficient healing time) is necessary, after which time a new implant can be placed. 

Obviously, it's annoying when dental implants need to be removed and replaced. But when you think about your end goal (a full and beautiful smile), it's a worthwhile annoyance.