Dental Implant “Time Bomb” Overblown

Jul 16, 2014, by Dr. Becky Coats

Dental Implant by Andrew55austin on WikimediaWhether it’s clicks, papers, or subscriptions, media moguls know there’s nothing like a health scare to sell their news, which is why they will always find one if they can, and make one up if they can’t.

The latter is the case for some of the alarming articles you may be seeing about peri-implantitis, a supposed “time bomb” threatening all dental implant recipients. This condition is essentially a form of periodontal disease, but if you read some of the articles, you may be fooled into believing it’s some kind of secret terror that has suddenly been loosed on the world.

What Is Peri-Implantitis?

Peri-implantitis is when bacterial infection around the dental implant causes the bone to recede, resulting in dental implant loosening and potentially even failure.

If this sounds familiar, it should, because the leading cause of tooth loss in the US is periodontal disease–gum disease, which, when it’s severe, is called periodontitis–in which bacteria infection causes bone loss around your teeth. Periodontal means “around the tooth,” and peri-implantitis means infection around the implant.

A Secret New Disease?

If you read some articles about peri-implantitis, it sounds like this is a shocking new condition that dentists are just discovering. This article, for example, claims that dentists didn’t believe in the condition ten years ago, and uses as supporting evidence the fact that one patient hadn’t heard of it.

In fact, infection around the dental implant has long been known to be the leading cause of dental implant failure. There was–and still is–dispute about whether it’s a distinct condition caused by different bacteria than normal gum disease, but overall the conditions are so similar, and so widely discussed, it’s irresponsible to claim that dentists have been keeping this disease secret.

Who Is at Risk?

Anyone how has dental implants can potentially suffer peri-implantitis just like anyone who has teeth can potentially suffer periodontitis. However, people are at more risk if:

  • They have a history of gum disease
  • They are smokers
  • They do not maintain good oral hygiene
  • They have certain genetic factors that increase gum disease risk

Talk to your implant dentist about your risk when you have your dental implants placed.

If you have more questions about dental implant safety, please call 817-442-3331 for an appointment with a Grapevine cosmetic dentist at Grapevine Dental Care.