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Written by NoFrills Dental

This dental article has been curated by the clinical team @ NoFrills Dental 🙂

October 20, 2021

dentist holding a dental implant model

You have finally decided that you want to get an implant to replace that tooth that you have just extracted. Your dentist informs you of the potential risks that implant surgery brings and one of them is the risk of implant infection. Should I still opt to consider this treatment option then?

Dental implant supported restorations are a predictable and popular way to replace missing teeth. Reported success rates for dental implants are high, ranging from 90-95%. Many have the potential to last a lifetime, however, some patients report pain, redness or even swelling of the tissues around the implant, which can drastically increase the risk of implant failure.

We discuss the many causes of dental implant infections, different treatment modalities to deal with implant failures and provide you with tips on how you can take care of the implant as well as your surrounding oral tissues.

By the end of this article, you will feel a rejuvenated sense of motivation to look after your implant prosthesis to the best of your ability!

How can I recognize an infected implant?

Bacteria builds up on the base of the implant screw and spreads upwards to irritate the soft and hard tissues of the gums around your dental implant. This irritation from bacteria causes your gums to get inflamed, damaging the tissues around it. If the problem is not diagnosed and treated early, the bone structure around your implant shrinks, potentially compromising the anchorage between the implant and jawbone.

There are two overarching types of inflammatory lesions that affect dental implants: peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis.

Peri-Implant Mucositis

Peri-Implant Mucositis

Defined as a disease which affects the soft tissues around the dental implant with no additional loss of bone. Peri-implant mucositis is a precursor to peri-implantitis and can be successfully treated if diagnosed early.

Signs and symptoms

You may experience these symptoms around the implants:

  • Redness,
  • Tenderness,
  • Soreness,
  • Localized swelling,
  • Bad taste in your mouth,
  • Bleeding when brushing or when probed by your dentist.


A destructive inflammatory process affecting the hard and soft tissues around the dental implant.  The bone surrounding the implant deteriorates (shrinks) and its retention is compromised (may become loose).

Signs and symptoms

As for peri-implantitis, there is a significant reduction of bone holding the implant together on your dental X-ray. The implant may be loose if bone loss is extensive.

What are the risk factors causing infected implants?

Risk factors are defined as ‘a determinant that increases the chance of getting a disease or infection’.

Here are some factors that put you at a greater risk of developing peri-implant mucositis and/or peri-implantitis as well as tips on how you can avoid them:


oral hygiene

Poor Oral Hygiene and Plaque control

Infection can build up months or years after your implant is placed. This highlights the importance of cleaning the tissues around your implant consistently by brushing and flossing twice a day.

If you are finding it difficult getting access to some sights for cleaning, speak to your dentist and they will be able to provide you with tips and aids on how to reach those areas that are hard to get.

dental visit

Lack of Regular Maintenance Therapy

Your dentist can spot early signs of infection even before you feel the pain.

Regular sixth monthly dental visits should be arranged to enable early detection and management of peri-implantitis.

man smoking a cigarette


Nicotine found in cigarettes has a negative effect on all procedures done in the oral cavity by impairing reducing blood flow in the gums.

This is a contributing factor that leads to the progression of peri-implantitis in smokers.

poorly controlled diabetes

Poorly Controlled Diabetes

Poorly Controlled Diabetes Patients who suffer from uncontrolled diabetes are more susceptible to getting peri-implantitis due to poor glycaemic control.

Regular monitoring of glycaemic status and maintaining a high standard of oral hygiene is of paramount importance in patients suffering from diabetes.

x-ray of patient teeth

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy induces alterations in your immune system and more importantly, impairs the blood and nutrient supply to your bones which is very detrimental to the survival of dental implants.

It is best to have a chat with your dentist with regards to radiation therapy and its effects on your oral cavity and consider other treatment modalities to replace your missing teeth.

Can an infected dental implant be saved?

young woman having dental check up

To put it clearly and concisely for you: it really depends on how serious your infection is.

The earlier the infection is detected and diagnosed, the simpler and less complex the treatment will be. That being said, the chances of saving the implant will be much higher!

If the infection extent of bone loss is moderate to advanced, your dentist may have to assess the restorability of the implant. They may need to surgically debride (clean) the wound and its surrounding soft tissues, remove the diseased tissue, clear the implant surfaces off of bacterial and microbial load and finally, apply any bone regeneration techniques (such as bone grafting) to restore the lost bone. This may be used in conjunction with antibiotics to treat the bacteria causing the infection.

Every case is unique and different. Not even the best dentist in the world can fully guarantee that they can save your failing implant. If you are starting to experience even the slightest symptoms associated with your implant, seek help as soon as you can.

Help! Why is my implant loose?

As we discussed in our previous article titled “Can Dental Implants be Used for the Front Teeth?”, implant osseointegration is defined as formation of direct anchorage or fusion into your jawbone without any interposed soft tissue layers. This process takes about 5-6 months after the implant is placed.

loose dental implant

Implant failure is often attributed to the failure of the jawbone to fuse directly to the implant. As a result, it becomes loose and, in some cases, can fall out.

Here are a few reasons why implant osseointegration can fail:

  • Overheating of bone at the time of placement
  • Contamination of the implant surface
  • Insufficient bone density/quality of bone is poor
  • Incorrect positioning of the implant
  • Damage to the surrounding soft tissues adjacent to the implant
  • Overloading due to heavy grinding

How can I prevent this from happening?

dental xrays on a patient

Before an implant is placed in your jawbone, your dentist will have to make sure that you have adequate quality and quantity of bone present. This will involve taking a couple of X-rays for them to plan the surgery. For patients that have insufficient bone density, procedures such as bone grafting or sinus lift can help to rebuild healthy bone.

If your implant falls out, ensure that you keep the screw, crown and abutments safe and arrange to see your dentist as soon as possible. Continue keeping the area very clean and avoid chewing on that side of the mouth.


Dental implants are by far the best ways to replace missing teeth and can last a lifetime with proper care. If you have a dental implant, it is very important to understand that you arrange regular checkups and professional cleaning every six months. This will allow prompt action if your dentist notices early signs of infection.

NoFrills Dental Team of Professionals | Professional Team of Dentists in Singapore | Best dentists in Singapore


  • Raikar, S., Talukdar, P., Kumari, S., Panda, S., Oommen, V. and Prasad, A., 2017. Factors affecting the survival rate of dental implants: A retrospective study. Journal of International Society of Preventive and Community Dentistry, 7(6), p.351.
  • Periodontology, A., n.d. Peri-implant Diseases | Perio.org. [online] Perio.org. Available at: https://www.perio.org/consumer/peri-implant-disease [Accessed 13 October 2021].
  • Kasat, V. and Ladda, R., 2012. Smoking and dental implants. Journal of International Society of Preventive and Community Dentistry, 2(2), p.38.
  • Alberti, A., Morandi, P., Zotti, B., Tironi, F., Francetti, L., Taschieri, S. and Corbella, S., 2020. Influence of Diabetes on Implant Failure and Peri-Implant Diseases: A Retrospective Study. Dentistry Journal, 8(3), p.70.
  • Anderson, L., Meraw, S., Al-Hezaimi, K. and Wang, H., 2013. The Influence of Radiation Therapy on Dental Implantology. Implant Dentistry, 22(1), pp.31-38.
  • Bauerdentalcenter.com. 2020. Can My Failing Dental Implant Be Saved?. [online] Available at: https://www.bauerdentalcenter.com/blog/can-my-failing-dental-implant-be-saved [Accessed 13 October 2021].
  • Dentistry, B. and Dentistry, B., n.d. Dental Implant Infection. [online] Periodontist Manhattan NYC. Available at: https://www.implantnyc.com/implant-procedures/dental-implant-infection [Accessed 13 October 2021].
  • DoctorxDentist. 2021. 5 Reasons Why Dental Implants Fail. [online] Available at: https://www.doctorxdentist.com/5-reasons-dental-implants-fail [Accessed 13 October 2021].

Looking to get started on your brand new & improved smile? Speak to our dentists today!

Our team of experienced dentists are fully dedicated to providing patients with high-quality and affordable dental care. Our dentists are well-versed in the cosmetic dentistry, and highly adept in producing highly aesthetic and long lasting results for all of our patients.

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Our Dental Clinics

We are conveniently located at these locations:

NoFrills Dental @ Suntec City

3 Temasek Boulevard
Suntec City (North Wing)
Singapore 038983

T: +65 6337 7319
E: suntec@nofrillsdental.com.sg

NoFrills Dental @ Marina Square

6 Raffles Boulevard,
Marina Square,
Singapore 039594

T: +65 6227 8885
E: marinasquare@nofrillsdental.com.sg

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