Dental implants are often used to replace lost teeth, and the leading cause of tooth loss is periodontal disease. However, periodontal disease is also a leading cause of dental implant failure, and people with a history of chronic periodontal disease experience a failure rate many times higher than those without a prior history.

Does this mean dental implants are not a good treatment for these patients that need them most? No, but it does mean that patients must work with their Sydney implant dentist to proactively combat implant failure.

What Causes Dental Implant Failure

Last month we talked about the two main factors that influence dental implant success: bone density and gender. Although these might not seem like the most intuitive factors, they actually make a lot of sense when you consider the causes of dental implant failure:

  • Peri-Implantitis (gum disease): 38% of failures
  • Osseointegration failure: 33%
  • Mechanical complications: 9%
  • Overloading: 9%
  • Other: 10%

These failure rates come from a 20-year study of more than 12,500 dental implants. Note that this doesn’t add up to 100% because of rounding. Also, note that these percentages are relative to the 319 dental implant failures recorded in the study (2.5% of all implants). For example, loss due to peri-implantitis occurred in just shy of 1% of total implants. 

How Periodontal Disease Leads to Implant Failure


Periodontal disease leads to tooth loss by damaging the support structures around the tooth. As bacteria colonise the area around your teeth, they naturally excrete acid as a by-product of their digestion of sugars and other carbohydrates. This acid can erode tooth material, gums, and even bones.

As periodontal disease progresses, you may begin to notice that your gums are red and inflamed, and eventually, your teeth may begin to feel loose. Finally, your teeth may come out under the stress of eating or may have to be removed as the only way to combat the infection.

The strength of dental implants is that they are secured in your jawbone the same way that your natural teeth are. Unfortunately, this means they are also vulnerable to the same processes by which bacteria can break down bones around your natural teeth. Even if you have a bone graft to replace lost bone before having dental implants, the infection can recur and cause a loss of dental implants.

How bad is this problem? According to one study, people without a history of periodontal disease had a success rate of 95% for dental implants, but those with a history of periodontal disease had a success rate of only 71%. More recent studies show that periodontal disease increases your risk of dental implant failure nearly 3-fold, but new techniques keep the survival rate at a much higher 88%.

Dental implant failures due to gum disease can occur anytime, but they’re the leading cause of implant failure after the first six months. Regular checkups and professional cleanings by your Sydney implant dentist can help avoid this danger. 

Why Dental Implants Fail to Integrate

Surgical implantation can give your dental implant mechanical security in the jaw. This is the same security that a screw has in a piece of wood: pressure between the threads and the material, as well as friction, keep the implant from coming out. However, to be truly secure in the jaw, the implant must go through osseointegration. In this process, the body removes the old, pressured bone and replaces it with new, unstressed bone. However, unlike a screw in wood, this doesn’t make the implant loose. Instead, the new bone attaches directly to the implant. The implant essentially becomes part of the bone, and it won’t simply come loose in the future.

Dental implants might fail to integrate into the jaw because of several reasons. One is osteoporosis, which means you naturally have low-density bone around the implant. Your body might also be unable to make good-quality bone to replace the pressured bone. In addition, the type of bone around the implant affects survival. Implants in the lower jaw may be more likely to fail than those in the upper jaw. 

Other factors might affect osseointegration, such as consuming alcohol too soon after implant surgery or smoking at any time during the osseointegration process. 

Failure to integrate is the leading cause of implant failure in the first six months but becomes relatively rare after the first year following implantation. 

Mechanical Failure of Dental Implants

Mechanical failure of dental implants is a relatively rare complication. This means that the dental implant or the abutment is cracked or fractured. Although the titanium implant is very strong, it is not invulnerable to pressure from biting and chewing, as well as traumatic stress. 

Mechanical failure risks increase over time. People with bruxism are more likely to experience this type of implant failure. 

Overloading of Dental Implants

Overloading dental implants is also a relatively rare complication. It occurs when the force on an implant from biting, chewing, bruxism, and other sources overwhelms the bone built around the implant. This almost always occurs shortly after the final restoration–the dental crown or bridge–is placed. 

The Sydney implant dentists at My Hills Dentist have tools to measure the force on your dental restoration to further minimize this risk. 

For Success, You Have to Play Your Part

If periodontal disease leads to you losing your teeth, it could lead to the failure of your dental implants. If you are truly committed to having an attractive, functional new smile with dental implants, you must also be committed to caring for your oral health. We may recommend alterations to your oral hygiene routine that should be followed closely.

You should also follow other recommendations, such as avoiding alcohol and smoking during the recovery period and getting good nutrition to encourage bone healing. If your Sydney implant dentist gives you a mouthguard to protect against bruxism, remember to wear it. 

But if we work together, we can put you in the increasingly large category of people who overcame periodontal disease and got a great smile with dental implants.

To learn more, please contact My Hills Dentist in the Baulkham Hills area of Sydney.