Teeth fall out (or are pulled) for many different reasons. Sometimes, your tooth is knocked out. Other times, it decays to the point of needing to be pulled. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that 69% of adults (between ages 44) have lost at least one permanent tooth.
No matter the reason, dental implants are a common fix. This procedure generally involves removing the tooth root and replacing it with a tooth that screws into a metal base. This can give you the appearance of a natural tooth.
Like all surgical procedures, this one too can become infected. Thankfully, there are some ways to remedy this.
First: How to know if you have an infected implant
The most noticeable symptom of an implant infection (also called peri-implantitis) is pain and swelling. The infection is due to bacteria attacking the bone and gums at the site of the implant. Likely, the pain will be localized and get worse as the bacteria has more time to spread.
Other than pain, bleeding might also occur at the site of the dental implant. Another common set of symptoms, with most bacterial infections, is a foul smell or discharge coming from the mouth. Lastly, if your dental implant is loose, you can assume that you might have an infection especially if it is accompanied by any of the above symptoms.
These are all symptoms that might indicate an infection with your implant. You will only know if you actually have an infection by getting a dentist to confirm it. They will likely examine the mouth for signs of infection as well as x-ray the mouth. If the infection is confirmed, there are a few options for treatment depending on the severity.
How to remedy the infection
The best treatment is prevention. You should follow your dentist’s or oral surgeon’s aftercare instructions closely to prevent an infection from occuring in the first place. This will likely include keeping your oral hygiene in check to make sure that bacteria does not have the chance to colonize or that debris is not stuck anywhere in the mouth.
If your symptoms are mild, you might be able to get away with antibiotic treatment and continued good oral hygiene with antiseptic rinsing. In cases where symptoms grow worse, you might need to have the entire implant removed so that the infection can be properly cured.
There are a lot of factors that are important here including the type of implant, the extent of the infection, if bone was lost during infection, and other symptoms that occurred during the infection. This is why it is important to consult your dental specialist as soon as possible.
Until you are able to reach the dentist, you might manage your symptoms by alternating icing and warm compress on the area, especially if you are experiencing pain and swelling.
Is this an emergency dentistry problem?
Like a toothache, an implant infection is usually not an emergency. If you know the symptoms beforehand, you will be better able to recognize the early signs.
Generally for dental problems, it is best to seek out a dentist if possible even in an emergency because of expertise and cost. If your infection gets to the point of unbearable pain or uncontrollable fever or bleeding, you might need to head to the ER if a dentist office is not an option. The ER doctors will be able to manage your symptoms, but they will likely not be able to fix the problem.
Follow the Doctor’s orders
Most dental implants are successful. If you are healthy and follow the aftercare instructions provided by your doctor, you should be alright after your surgery. It is smart to know the symptoms of an infection so that you can catch it early. The key is to prevent a dental emergency from occurring by keeping up good hygiene.
At Devaney Dental, we have experience to help you through the dental implant process. Whether you are considering implants, have them already, or are dealing with an infection that seems like a dental emergency, we have the skills and knowledge to provide compassionate care.