Patients with missing teeth prefer dental implants because they are strong, permanent, and look and act like natural teeth. Trained dentists perform dental implant surgery, which can carry risks like any surgical procedure. Some side effects of dental implants may occur after your surgery and within the days and weeks afterward.

Here’s what you need to know about implant side effects, and how you and your dentist can avoid them.

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Dental Implants?

No surgical procedure is without side effects. You can expect normal side effects like bleeding, swelling, and some pain after you implants are in. However, some less common side effects can occur.

Infection

Roughly half of patients can develop an infection from implant surgery when bacteria enters your body via the implant site. You may be more prone to develop an infection if you smoke, have existing gum disease, or are diabetic. Infection can develop immediately or days later if you don’t take care of the implant. Signs of infection include:

  • Excessive bleeding beyond 24 hours
  • Persistent or worsening fever
  • Throbbing pain
  • Severe swelling

Antibiotics can stop the growth and spread of bacteria responsible for any infection at the implant site. Keep in mind that minor bleeding, bruising, swelling, and pain are common after implant surgery, but can indicate an infection if these symptoms do not stop or clear up. Tell your dentist right away if you experience symptoms of an infection after an implant.

Sinus Problems

Some implant patients experience sinus problems after surgery. Your sinuses are the hollow cavities behind your facial bones under your eyes and around your nose. Implants can interfere with sinus regions when they are in close proximity, especially the upper jaw.

Additionally, bone quantity of the upper jaw necessary for implants may be insufficient and lead to sinus problems. You may experience sinus infections and feel headaches, cheek, or sinus pain if an implant protrudes into a sinus cavity.

To avoid the potential for sinus problems after an implant, dentists can perform a sinus augmentation prior to your surgery. In this procedure, a dentist will lift the existing bone into the sinus cavity to create more available space. Your dentist can then fix an implant more solidly with less likelihood of sinus issues.

Tell your dentist if you are already prone to sinus infections and other problems during your implant consultation. Doing so helps them plan any necessary procedures, like a sinus augmentation, to improve your implant outcome.

Neurapraxia

One little known side effect of implants involves neurapraxia, or nerve damage, in your face. In rare cases, nerves near the implant site are injured during implant preparation or placement. Sometimes implant length and width affects nearby nerves as well.

You may feel continued numbness in certain areas of your gums, face, lips, or chin after the anesthesia wears off everywhere else. Sometimes numbness appears much later after a normal return to sensation. Other signs of nerve damage include tingling, tickling, or burning skin.

The sooner you report nerve issues to your dentist the better. Most of the time nerves recover on their own with rest and by applying ice. CT scans can reveal whether an implant needs to be shortened or adjusted to relieve any persistent symptoms of nerve damage.

Are Side Effects Avoidable?

Your dentist needs to know whether you are a good candidate for implants because a successful dental implant with fewer side effects relies on many factors. Some factors that can negatively affect the outcome of an implant are:

  • Smoking
  • Gum disease
  • Insufficient jaw bone
  • Poor dental health
  • Autoimmune diseases

Finally, one important factor for a successful implant is your own dentist. An experienced dentist with skill and training is more likely to avoid sinus problems and nerve damage. Contact Richard Leong Jr. DDS, PA, to learn more about dental implants and to see if the procedure is right for you.