Can dental implants crack? A myth or not?

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Your natural teeth can crack, it’s normal even if they are the strongest and most solid tissue in your body. So what about your new implant? Can dental implants crack? You know that an implant is made of extremely durable materials, they are strong as possible. But they are not invincible just because they are made from durable materials. Some situations can cause unwanted results, and you may need to take immediate action.

Hence, in this article, our aim is to answer the question of can dental implant cracks. And also we want to explain to you how can that happen, what you should do with a broken dental implant, and what are the possible solutions for how to fix a chipped dental implant. So, let’s get started.

Dental implants: Can they crack your smile?

Yes, they can! It’s not likely but they can break, chip, or crack. And not only does such a situation damage your smile but it also can put your oral health at risk. So, it’s really really important to be careful about a broken implant and get it fixed as soon as possible from the hands of a dental professional. 

How can implants crack?

There are some situations that can endanger your implants. Generally, these kinds of acts and situations are also risky for your natural teeth too. So let’s take a look at them:

  • Chewing hard food
  • Trying to crack the shell of a nut
  • Biting meat with a bone inside it
  • Opening bottles with your teeth
  • Sports injuries
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)

Seeing the list, most of them happen during your daily activities. Without proper care, your implant and real teeth can get damaged easily. Try to avoid doing these as much as possible to maintain your beautiful smile. Now that you know how can dental implants crack, let’s move into the next section and see which parts can get damaged.

Which parts of a dental implant can crack or fracture?

We just mentioned how can dental implants crack, but which parts of it? A dental implant has 3 separate parts: the crown, the abutment, and the screw. Although rare, all of them have a chance to fracture or crack. Let’s see how they can be damaged:

Dental crown: It is the visible part that is seen as your tooth. Crowns can get chipped or cracked if applied excessive pressure or trauma.

Abutment: It is the part that connects your root and crown. Even though it is made from really durable materials, teeth grinding or biting on hard objects can cause your abutment to be fractured.

The screw: As known as the fixture, it is the main part of the implant that replaces the tooth root. Implant fixture fracture has several reasons but they are not common to happen. The first one is occlusal interference, which is when both below and above teeth are constantly in contact, causing bruxism. Also, improper implant placement can cause a fracture in the screw too. Rare but possible, manufacturing errors can cause dental implant failure as well.

The severity of the damage or the situation can determine how damaged your implant can be. You should visit your dentist and see what happened to your implant properly.

How to know if your implant is broken?

It is a fact that patients undergoing dental implant treatment have a risk of fractures in their implants. So how is it possible to understand whether the implant is broken or not? How can dental implants crack and affect you? When the implant breaks, it shows some symptoms. However, having one or more of these symptoms is not enough to decide that your implant is broken and you should get it checked at a dentist.

Signs that your implant may be broken:

Pain and tenderness: It is possible to understand that the implant is broken from the pain or discomfort in your mouth. If there is pain and sensitivity in the mouth and gums, a fracture may have occurred in the implant.

Movement status in the implant: Feeling a loose implant can be a sign that it may be cracked or broken. Healthy implants should be fixed and stable in their place.

Gum infection: If the implant is broken, it creates a risk of infection in the gums. It may be broken if your gums are swollen and painful. 

Experiencing dysfunction: If you have difficulty in doing daily movements such as chewing and speaking in your implant area, it may be broken.

Appearance: If you observe cracks, fractures, or fragments in your mouth, you may have found a sign that it is broken. Jagged edges are another sign as well.

Things to do when your implant gets damaged

The most important thing you have to do in a cracked dental implant situation is to call your dentist and get an appointment as soon as possible. But it may not be an immediate appointment. So, until you see your dentist you have to protect your implant and teeth. In order to do that, check the damage first. Open your mouth and try to see the problem. You might not notice if the problem is in the abutment or in the fixture. If your crown is chipped, search for the missing part of your broken dental implant crown. It may be possible to save the implant so don’t throw them to the dump.

You may not be able to understand what is wrong exactly, but if you still feel that something is not right this may mean possible internal damage. It is your implant, a part of your body, only you can feel if there is something going wrong or not. 

Rinse your mouth

The first thing you have to do is to rinse your mouth. You can use warm salt water for this. When your crown cracks, the debris or particles can spread all over your mouth and cause irritation in your mouth. Rinsing is the only option to avoid this situation. Also, saltwater can eliminate bacteria and prevent accumulation. Rinse your mouth regularly until you get the replacement teeth.

Avoid eating on that side

It’s a life-saving precaution. Just don’t eat with that side. Food particles and debris stuck in the area can cause serious problems. Also, avoiding sugary things is also important because the sugar can accumulate in the area and cause bacteria to multiply.

Treatment options for a broken dental implant

If you think you have a broken dental implant, you must first determine the condition of your implant. For this, you should consult a dentist. The dentist will evaluate the size of the fracture and the general condition of the implant and create a treatment plan for you. This is important for determining the treatment process because different processes can be followed according to the size of the fracture.

Fixing the crown

If your dental implant crown broke off, it may be possible to repair the crown crack without affecting the implant. However, this option is only suitable when the implant post and abutment are intact. There are 3 different options to fix a broken dental implant crown:

Dental bonding: The bonding technique can be used in cases where there is minor damage to the implant and abutment. While bonding the tooth, a composite resin material is applied to the damaged area. This applied material is then shaped and polished. The reason for this is to make the appearance and functionality of the implant perfect.

Dental onlay: Generally, a dental onlay is recommended in cases where the damage is beyond the cusps. It will be restored with custom-made materials. Then, custom bonded into the damaged part to restore 

Crown replacement: If the implant crown and abutment have been severely damaged, the implant crown may need to be replaced. This process consists primarily of removing the broken crown. Then, a new one should be produced in accordance with the color and shape of the natural tooth.

Abutment repair

In rare cases, the connector between the implant and the crown may be damaged. In other words, abutment damage. If the damage is minor, it can be repaired, but if it is large, it must be replaced.

Implant replacement

If a serious break or damage is seen in the implant itself, a replacement implant will be necessary. If needed, your dentist may also perform a bone graft procedure to ensure that the replaced implant will fit perfectly.

What if a damaged implant is left untreated?

Serious problems can occur if patients don’t replace their broken implants. First of all, a damaged implant means constant pain and tenderness in the mouth. And unless the damage is treated, the pain will continue to increase. In addition, there is a high probability of infection and gum disease. Also, because the implant will lose its function,  you may have difficulty eating and talking.

 

So, the main point is getting your damaged implant treated as soon as possible. As you know, implants are for preserving your gum and bone tissues. Improperly functioning implants can affect the health of the adjacent teeth, thus your overall dental health. So, try not to postpone the restoration of your damaged goodies.

References:

Song JY. Implant complications in bruxism patients. J Korean Assoc Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2021 Apr 30;47(2):149-150. doi: 10.5125/jkaoms.2021.47.2.149. PMID: 33911049; PMCID: PMC8084741.

Lima AF, Cavalcanti AN, Martins LR, Marchi GM. Occlusal interferences: how can this concept influence the clinical practice? Eur J Dent. 2010 Oct;4(4):487-91. PMID: 20922171; PMCID: PMC2948734.

Nayana P, Nayak SS, Chatterjee A, Sivaraman K, Srikanth G, Singh C. Retrieval of Fractured Implant Abutment Screws: A Narrative Review. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. 2022 Jun 29;12(3):287-294. doi: 10.4103/jispcd.JISPCD_318_21. PMID: 35966908; PMCID: PMC9369788. (link)

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