Learning to Take Better Care of Your Family's Teeth

Three Reasons Why Your Dental Implant Broke

Dental implants have such a high rate of success that they've become the first line of treatment for people who have lost teeth to disease or trauma. However, it's also important to recognize that sometimes implants do fail. One issue that comes up in rare cases is implants will sometimes develop cracks or break completely. Here are three reasons why this may occur and what can be done to prevent them.

Tooth Grinding

Bruxism is an oral disorder where people unconsciously constantly clench and/or grind their teeth together. It affects a fair number of Americans; 10 percent of adults and 15 percent of children suffer from this condition, and your chances of getting it significantly increase if you have family members who suffer from it as well.

Clenching and grinding teeth cause considerable mechanical damage to them, which build up over time. Natural teeth are eventually worn down, resulting in loss of vertical height in the mouth. With dental implants, bruxism can lead to micro-fractures in the crown and screw that eventually leads to one or both breaking when the implant just can't take any more damage.

Luckily, bruxism can be managed. Since this condition commonly occurs at night when you are sleeping, it's essential you wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth from the incessant grinding. Unfortunately, wearing a mouth guard during the day isn't always practical, so you may need to work with your doctor or a behavioral specialist on ways to stop grinding and clenching your teeth when you're awake.

Poorly Distributed Bite Force

Another thing that could cause a dental implant to break is when your bite force is distributed in such a way that one particular tooth is hit harder whenever you chew than the other teeth surrounding it. The lopsided force can cause the tooth to wear out faster than normal, leading to cracks and breaks in the crown.

When this occurs with a dental implant, sometimes it's because the dentist didn't make proper adjustments to your bite to ensure chewing forces were evenly distributed through multiple teeth. Other times the bite force is fine but the implant was installed at an improper angle, increasing the tooth's vulnerability to pressure from chewing. Regardless, the best way to avoid this situation is to ensure you are working with an experienced cosmetic dentist who fully understands the intricacies of your mouth.

However, uneven chewing force can also be the result of missing teeth. Losing a tooth on either side of the implant can lead to the implant taking the bulk of the extra pressure. This is why it's important to have teeth replaced as soon as possible when they fall out; to prevent leftover teeth from having to bear the burden of handling the increased stress of mastication.

Bone Deterioration

A third reason why a dental implant may break is as a side effect of jaw bone deterioration. The most important step in the dental implant process is osseointegration of the titanium post to the jaw, because this is what ensures the implant remains in place. If the jaw bone thins or weakens due to disease, the post may become detached and shift the tooth to an odd angle.

As noted previously, when the implant is not positioned properly, it may become more vulnerable to the intense pressure of chewing forces. Over time, this may cause the crown or the screw on top of the post to break.

The most common reason for jaw bone deterioration is osteoporosis, which is a disease characterized by bone density loss. However, bone loss can also be caused by certain medical treatments and medications (e.g. radiation therapy, chemotherapy). It's important to notify your dentist about what's going on with your overall health so he or she can monitor your implants and take action as needed.

If your dental implant broke, contact a cosmetic dentist as soon as possible to minimize the damage and restore form and function to your smile. For more information, contact specialists like Samuel D Knight, DDS.