Dental implants are little, screw-like titanium posts operatively placed into the jawbone to bring back missing teeth. They act as tooth roots for natural teeth replacement like crowns, bridges, or dentures. Usually, dental implants are thoroughly and firmly tightened during implant placement surgery. However, sometimes a dental implant may end up being loose due to some causes.
So, is a loose dental implant an emergency? The answer depends on a couple of factors.
Causes of Loose Dental Implants
To better understand whether or not a loose dental implant is an emergency, it is essential to know what causes the problem in the first place. Generally, there are two primary reasons why a dental implant might become loose:
1. Mechanical Forces or Infection
These refer to any force that can alter the stability of an implant, such as chewing hard food or grinding teeth at night, and even simply a poor fit between the dental implant and your jawbone.
2. Infection or Peri-Implantitis
Meanwhile, infection is caused when bacteria enter the implant site and cause inflammation of the surrounding tissues. This can compromise the bond between the implant and the jawbone.
In either case, it is vital to seek medical attention immediately if you discover that your dental implant has become loose. If left untreated, both mechanical forces and infection can result in further issues, like:
- Infection of surrounding teeth
- Bone loss
- Failure of the dental implant itself
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Signs a Loose Dental Implant Is an Emergency
Like other dental emergencies, it is crucial to visit a dentist immediately when you observe the following indicators:
- Pain and discomfort when biting or chewing
- Loose or shifting teeth near the affected implant
- Trouble communicating clearly or forming words properly
- Swelling of the gums around the affected implant
- Infection in the form of pus or discharge from the site of the loose dental implant
How to Handle a Dental Implant Emergency
If you suspect your dental implant is loose, seek treatment immediately from an experienced dental professional. The quicker you get help, the better your odds of restoring the implant and preventing more problems.
Your dentist will likely need to take X-rays or an MRI scan to identify the cause of the problem and choose a course of action. Depending on the severity of the situation, they may opt to tighten or replace the implant entirely. In some cases, antibiotics may be necessary if an infection is present.
How to Avoid Loose Dental Implants
The following are tips on how to avoid loose dental implants:
- Keep up good dental hygiene practices, and see your dentist for regular examinations.
- Use a mouthguard or splint if you grind your teeth at night.
- Avoid hard and sticky types of foods that can cause mechanical forces on the implant.
- Limit alcohol and tobacco use, as they can contribute to infection.
- Follow any post-operative instructions that your dentist provides.
On the other hand, regularly seeing a dentist can do more than keep your teeth in good shape and prevent loose dental implants. If you need other dental care for your teeth, your dentist may offer opalescence teeth whitening as part of your routine visits.
A loose dental implant is not necessarily an emergency, but it should still be attended to immediately by a certified dental expert. It only becomes an emergency if there is pain, swelling, infection, or other signs of trouble. However, addressing the issue beforehand and following your dentist’s directions help ensure your dental implant remains stable for years. It’s also essential to practice good dental hygiene practices and see your dentist regularly to minimize the risk of dental implant loosening in the first place.