Can a Dental Implant Become Infected?

dental implant Honolulu, HI

Designed to be lasting replacements for lost teeth, the great majority of dental implant procedures are successful. However, they occasionally are susceptible to complications, such as an infection known as peri-implantitis. This article talks about dental implant infections, diagnosis and possible treatments.

Dental implant infection

Peri-implantitis is an inflammatory condition similar to gum disease that attacks the gum tissues surrounding a dental implant. The infection is usually caused by bacteria, which can accumulate immediately after the dental implant procedure or years later and can eventually cause bone loss and implant failure. The condition can cause the gums to bleed easily, especially when probed gently, and increases the pocket depth between the dental implant and the gum.

Symptoms of the condition include gum swelling and possible foul discharge. The major concern of peri-implantitis is that the bone supporting the infected dental implant becomes compromised. Patients are advised to book an appointment with the dentist as soon as they notice any of the symptoms associated with the condition.

Diagnosing dental implant infection

One of the first steps the dentist will take is to perform a dental X-ray of the affected implant. They may assess the extent of the infection and inflammation by probing the tissues surrounding the implant gently. Gently probing the area can help them detect any sign of infection quickly. Early diagnosis is essential to increase the chances of saving the implant.

One concern with this infection is that it usually causes no pain, and therefore patients are often unaware of the dental implant infection. The dentist will also try to check if the inflammation is a result of other problems such as cementitis, which is when a foreign body is the cause of infection. In the first year after the implant procedure, the symptoms may also be caused by bone grafting procedure, so the dentist must eliminate all potential causes of infection and inflammation.


If the dentist diagnosis an infection, one of the most crucial steps of the treatment is to clean the infected dental implant. This may not be straightforward, depending on the type of implant. It is harder to mechanically clean implants with rough surfaces.

The next step is to disinfect the affected area. In the case of moderate infection, the dentist may recommend using antibiotics. This is where bone loss is not more than 2 mm to 4 mm around the implant. For more severe infections resulting in more bone loss, the dentist may recommend a surgical procedure, together with mechanical cleaning of the implant, disinfection and antibiotics.

In summary

The earlier the implant infection is diagnosed and treated, the higher the chances of success. If the dental implant has loosened because of advanced infection and bone loss, saving it may be much harder. In this situation, the dental implant may be removed to allow healing in the area. Patients may be able to get implants again after the area is free of infection. A regular dental checkup is vital for patients who have implants as it allows the dentist to monitor them and check for signs of inflammation and infection.

Request an appointment here: or call Diamond Head Dental Care at (808) 450-2101 for an appointment in our Honolulu office.

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