6 Things You Need To Know About Peri-Implantitis

4 May 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


More than 3 million Americans have dental implants, and more are getting them all the time. These tooth restorations are an excellent way to replace missing teeth, but they're not without their risks. Here's what people with dental implants need to know about peri-implantitis. 

What is peri-implantitis?

Peri-implantitis is a complication of dental implants. The tissue that surrounds your implant becomes infected and inflamed, which can destroy the tissues that surround the dental implant. Both your gums and your jawbone can be affected by this condition. If it's not treated promptly, your dental implants can fail.

How do dental implants cause this complication?

Dental implant surgery, like any other type of surgery can introduce bacteria into your tissues. Cutting into your gum and bone tissue and implanting a metal rod in your jawbone has a lot of potential to introduce bacteria, even if your dentist is very careful.

Bacteria can also enter the tissues surrounding your implants after your surgery, even years later. Chewing pressure can loosen an implant over time, which allows bacteria to get underneath the implant. Gum disease can also play a role, since it causes your gums to recede. Receding gums can give bacteria a direct route beneath your implant and into your tissues.

What are the risk factors for this complication?

Some people are more likely to develop peri-implantitis than others. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, these people are more at risk:

  • People who smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco
  • People with diabetes
  • People with a history of periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease
  • People who don't brush or floss as often or as thoroughly as they should
  • People who clench or grind their teeth and put too much pressure on their implants
  • People who are genetically predisposed to this complication

Most of these factors are within your control. Quitting smoking, working to control your blood sugar, brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, and seeking treatment for tooth clenching can all help you reduce your risk of this complication.

What are the signs of peri-implantitis?

The signs of peri-implantitis are similar to other dental conditions such as gum disease. You may have red, swollen gums around the implant, and they may bleed when you brush your teeth. This condition doesn't usually cause pain until the infection gets very serious, so don't assume that you're fine just because the area around your implant doesn't hurt.

Can peri-implantitis be treated?

There are many different treatments for peri-implantitis. The main treatment is debridement, surgical removal of the infected tissue. This keeps the infection from spreading and allows the nearby tissue to heal. Other treatments are usually used in addition to debridement, such as antibiotic and antiseptic medications. Lasers have also been used to treat the condition.

Once the infection is gone, your dentist will rebuild any tissue that was destroyed. You may need gum grafts or bone grafts to repair the area. Graft tissue is taken either from your own body or from donor tissue.

How common is peri-implantitis?

Peri-implantitis is a fairly common complication. There have been many studies done to estimate how common peri-implantitis is in different populations. These studies show that about 10% of all dental implants will develop this complication, and about 20% of patients. People who have risk factors such as smoking or periodontitis were found to be more likely to suffer from peri-implantitis.

Peri-implantitis is a serious complication of dental implants. This condition can destroy the gum and bone tissue around your implant, so if you think you have it, you need to make an appointment with a dentist like Abigail Rollins, DMD, PC right away.