Potential risks of dental implant surgery
from implant failure to irreparable nerve damage
Dental implants typically consist of a titanium alloy screw (abutment) plus crown which are placed into the jaw bone to replace a tooth that has been lost. The idea of "simply replacing" a missing tooth with an artificial one can certainly seem alluring.
Based on a number of cases brought against dentists after implant surgery procedures, the following (not necessarily exhaustive) list features risks and complications which are not uncommon (and considering that implant operations constitute major and very expensive surgery, not surprising either). Sadly, these risks even include death.
General risks, complications & inconveniences
- Relatively high failure rate of 25% (all surgeries combined)
- Loss of the implant during the initial healing phase / failure to bond with the bone (lacking osseointegration) leading to looseness/instability/eventual loss of the new tooth.
- Postoperative bleeding
- Bad fit (malocclusion)
- The affected jaw(s) can swell and/or be painful.
- Chewing can be uncomfortable. Since proper mastication is an essential dental health prerequisite, the lack of exercise of one's jaws likely to ensue can precipitate further decay of one's teeth and gums.
- The implant can be rejected by your body.
- As implants consist of more than one part, they allow bacteria to proliferate in the joints. In contrast to natural teeth, an implant does not benefit from the protective action of dentinal fluid flow which fends off bacteria and bars them from entering the tooth, so implants are open to bacterial penetration and infection leading to
- Inflammation of the tissue surrounding the implant.
- Bone resorption (bone loss) can occur at the implant site.
- Extremely painful boils can develop regularly.
- Fever can set in - post-operative infection can destroy the surrounding bone and even lead to death (originally, one case on record).,
A second case has been reported to Healing Teeth Naturally on December 5, 2013 when the victim's husband wrote to me: "Well, now you can add another. My wife, herself a DDS, died 2 days after having implant surgery of a massive sepsis infection. She was 56 years old, mother of 3 and my wife for 26 years."
- The crown placed on top of the abutment consists of a different alloy than the abutment itself, leading to corrosion and release of various metal ions. Foreign metal presence and release into the body in general can carry a number of risks.
- Patients suffering from bruxism (tooth clenching/grinding) jeopardize both the proper healing of the bone after implant surgery and the longer-term survival of the artificial tooth.
- Implants demand particularly careful dental hygiene measures.
- Titanium can cause many ailments, particularly damage to the mucosa of the upper respiratory and urogenital tract (see case histories further below).
Complications particularly due to technical errors and material failures, insufficient treatment planning, lack of skill etc.
- Surrounding blood vessels and/or adjacent teeth (roots) can become damaged, leading to more dental problems.
- Bone can be injured.
- Implants can be erroneously placed in nerves such as the alveolar nerves entailing temporary or permanent/irreversible nerve damage (tingling/numbness with or without pain) affecting the oral mucosa and gingiva as well as other structures (your natural teeth, lip, chin, sinus cavity), possibly with constant dripping of saliva.
- Implants can be misplaced (inserted in the wrong position in your mouth to the point of becoming unrestorable requiring their removal or surgical repositioning).
- Implants frequently are placed into cavitation infection sites leading to subsequent spread of the infection through the bone. (Drs. Munro-Hall)
- Sinus problems can develop in the maxilla (upper jaw) from a protruding implant.
- Your nasal floor or sinus cavities can be injured.
- Your jaw can be broken or perforated.
- A nerve can accidentally be drilled into causing electric-shock-like pain and subsequent near-complete numbness of lips, teeth and gums (nerve may or may not regenerate).
- Technical failure of the implant such as fracture, loosening of the screw, and chipping/flaking of the crown can occur.
Case history: multiple ailments due to titanium implants
One man suffered from dislocations of the spine (in spite of twice-weekly chiropractic adjustments), severe diarrhea, and constant pain in the genital area making him impotent. He wore an upper denture (maxillary prosthesis) attached to two titanium implants. Following removal of the implants all complaints went away.
The above case has been translated from the monumental book Die Heilkunst von Morgen [The Healing Arts of Tomorrow] by Erika Herbst. The same book also reports the case of a grandmother who developed Alzheimer's within a year of receiving "beautiful new teeth", wisely adding however that the titanium implants likely were just the straw that broke the camel's back.
Case history of a patient with multiple implants: from "near death" back to life
While the following case recounted by British dentists Drs. Munro-Hall (authors of the highly recommended book Toxic Dentistry Exposed may or may not be typical, it can certainly show important potential side effects of implant surgery your dentist may not tell you (or even know) about.
A woman patient had received nine dental implants over three years. Little by little, she began to develop a number of serious health issues including auto-immune diseases, liver and kidney dysfunction and allergies for which even a battery of tests was unable to find any cause. In fact, she was ill to the point of expecting to die within a year.
When she came to see Drs. Munro-Hall as a last-ditch effort, the two dentists found extreme toxicity around all of her implants (confirmed by a specialist laboratory in the US) only 4 of which had been judged "unhealthy" by her former oral surgeon. Drs. Munro-Hall removed all of her implants and cleaned out the concomitant infections, following their own detox protocol.
Recovery set in swiftly, and within nine months the patient had fully regained her former robust health (the missing teeth were replaced by a partial denture).
As Drs. Munro-Hall lucidly comment, "Connecting the deterioration in health with an implant placed years ago is not easy. Only when the implant is [properly] removed and good health restored is the connection made."
Tip for combatting inflammation following dental implant surgery
While Healing Teeth Naturally for the above reasons does not support dental implant surgery, here is a tip for those who opt for this route and who develop post-surgical infection.
Unpleasant (and dangerous) infections surrounding a newly implanted tooth, where all other attempted measures such as Chlorhexidine had failed, successfully responded to xylitol application within just over a week. For details re application, see Rinsing mouth and brushing teeth with xylitol sugar.
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3 See Abscess home remedies.
4 Dangerous infections surrounding a new implant have been successfully treated with xylitol, see Rinsing mouth and brushing teeth with xylitol sugar.
7 Also see the notes on fluoride and titanium release under Toothpaste: hazardous to dental and bodily health?.
8 A particularly tragic case showing just what permanent nerve damage can entail is found under Testimonial: botched root canal destroys life: permanent pain and nerve damage after dental and other surgery.