Dental implant sinus infection: reasons and 6 tips for prevention

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Dental implants are truly wonderful restorative procedures. But as with any surgical dental procedure, there are also some potential complications with implant treatments. One of them is sinus infection after dental implants, a.k.a maxillary sinusitis. So what could be causing it?

We all have a sinus cavity located in our upper jaw. If bacteria or other microorganisms from the implant reach your nasal cavity, it may cause an infection. So they can also potentially affect the success of the implant integration process. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, you can minimize your chances of experiencing a dental implant sinus infection. Without wasting any more time, let’s clear up some concerns about sinus infections and dental implants!

Do dental implants lead to sinus infection?

Dental implants themselves don’t directly cause infections. But if you’re asking do sinus infections come from dental implants, the answer would be, yes, in some cases. Especially in implants that are placed in your upper jaw, near the maxillary sinuses. What can happen is that conditions can occur during or after the dental implant surgery which sometimes can lead to infections. For example, your sinus membrane can accidentally get damaged during the procedure if the dental surgeon is not careful enough during the procedure. And, one study even shows that if implants that are close to the maxillary sinus don’t heal well after the procedure, they might create a pathway from your oral cavity to the sinuses.

These are some various ways how microorganisms in our mouth can enter the sinus cavity and cause a bacterial infection there. But don’t let this haunt you, because the possibility of experiencing something like this is very unlikely as most dental surgeons are careful with proper dental implant placement. 

Does sinus infection create any risk factors?

Sinus infection after dental implants can pose a number of risk factors if left untreated. Among these factors, there are maxillary sinusitis, peri-implantitis, bone loss, and eventually implant failure. So how exactly do these infection-related risk factors occur?

Chronic sinusitis, which you may have heard of before, is a situation that can happen even if you don’t get any implants. However, if you indeed have an implant and there is an infection, this can cause inflammation in the maxillary sinuses. The outcome will be maxillary sinusitis. And let’s say the infection has spread, what happens then? Well, that’s when another risk factor, peri-implantitis, comes to mind. It seems to happen when the infection in question affects the tissues around the implant. Don’t think it’s not a big deal because if you ignore this, it can lead to many problems, even bone loss.

If there is a severe and recurrent infection, it is important to pay attention to the symptoms and do what is necessary. Because this will ruin the stability of your implant. And at the end of the day, these are quite valid reasons for implant failure. And nobody wants to experience implant removal since it can be quite unnerving.

How can you understand if you have a sinus infection?

There are several ways to tell if you have a sinus infection going on. If you feel any pain or pressure on your cheeks, forehead, or eye area, you may be showing the most common symptoms. Aside from these, you might experience headaches, especially in the frontal area.

Having a stuffy nose doesn’t always mean that you have a problem with your dental implant. We can also experience sinus issues when we are sick. Yet, sinus congestion after dental implants accompanied by a foul-smelling nasal discharge, can explain a lot. Following this nasal congestion, your sense of smell and taste may feel dull. Just like when you’re sick. And finally, this inflammation can cause postnasal drip. The feeling of heavy phlegm is also the best explanation for everlasting cough, sore throat, or a feeling of fullness in the ears.

Effective treatment options to manage sinus infection

When you notice symptoms of dental implant sinus infection, the first thing you should do is to reach out to your dental clinic or ear nose, and throat specialist. With early diagnosis and treatment, you can prevent further problems and have an easy recovery. So, now that you know your first move, let’s discuss how to treat recurring sinus infections from dental implants.

When dealing with a dental implant sinus infection, the main goal is to reduce symptoms as much as possible, get rid of the infection, and promote sinus drainage. In most cases, you may be told to use over-the-counter pain relievers, a neti pot, and warm compresses to reduce facial pressure. But, these solutions won’t be enough as they are temporary relievers, especially if you have a complex infection situation going on. In this case, you should use a prescribed antibiotic. And let us be a reminder just in case, even if you stop showing those symptoms, you should never stop taking your medication halfway through. This is the only way to completely get rid of all the inflammation.

In some quite rare cases though, maxillary implants may progress into the nasal cavity. Your dental surgeon can tell this through visual scanning and plan a treatment according to how far the implant is up there. The first thing that comes to mind is implant removal of course. Unfortunately, this is an invasive treatment for severe cases. However, according to one study, removal through the oral cavity may have a negative effect on the peri-implant support tissue. So, in this case, partial removal of the apical part of the dental implant is a way less invasive solution. 

6 sinus infection prevention tips for you!

The basic things in our daily lives can become much more difficult when you’re dealing with an infection. Especially if you have an infection that affects your respiratory system, as in this case. Nasal congestion and its consequences make basic things like breathing, eating, and sleeping more challenging. But you can still do your best to minimize the risk. So, here are 6 tips you can follow to minimize the risk of dental implant sinus infection:

Tip #1 Follow post-operative instructions 

After your dental implant surgery, your oral surgeon is going to assign you some responsibilities. These post-operative instructions are planned specifically for your situation. Most importantly, you must take the exact amount of medicine prescribed by your doctor. Otherwise, these drugs will do you more harm than good. And in case you notice a suspicious situation, be sure to inform your doctor before trying to sort it out yourself. Last but not least, make sure you are going to your follow-up appointments!

Tip #2 Maintaining good oral hygiene

Practicing a proper oral hygiene routine, which includes regular brushing, rinsing, and flossing, can help prevent mouth infections that can spread to the sinuses and thus prevent sinus issues. Make sure you have a proper oral hygiene routine tailored to your needs. You will notice a big relief for your sinus problem!

Tip #3 Practice proper nasal hygiene

Cleaning your nasal passages regularly will also help a lot. You can get a neti pot or a nasal rinse device for this. By doing so, you clean your nasal cavity with saline solution. It helps clear any irritants or bacteria that may have entered the nasal passages. But if you don’t have access to them, you can also prepare a saline solution at home within seconds. Mix half a tablespoon of non-iodized salt with 250 ml of distilled water in a spray bottle and shake. As you can see, it is quite easy to make with a quick preparation DYI.

Tip #4 Avoid smoking

Quitting smoking and avoiding smoking environments are essential for sinus health, as smoking can irritate the nasal passages and increase the risk of infection. Also, if you care enough about your overall health, you should do it for your lungs first and foremost.

Tip #5 Avoid allergens and irritants

If you’re already allergic, pollen, dust mites, and strong chemicals may be quite irritating. When you are exposed to such situations after dental implants, inflammation is likely. To prevent this, you can take precautions such as using air purifiers, keeping windows closed during high pollen seasons, and wearing a mask when exposed to irritants.

Tip #6 Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water is the best gift you can give your body. Of course, this will also help keep your nasal passages moist, and it’s good for your sinus congestion. Please don’t forget to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. As W.H. Auden once said, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”



References:

Borgonovo A, Fabbri A, Boninsegna R, Dolci M, Censi R. Displacement of a dental implant into the maxillary sinus: case series. Minerva Stomatologica. 2010;59(1-2):45-54. Accessed June 9, 2023. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20212409/#:~:text=The%20most%20frequent%20adverse%20effect

Nam KY, Kim JB. Treatment of dental implant-related maxillary sinusitis with functional endoscopic sinus surgery in combination with an intra-oral approach. Journal of the Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. 2014;40(2):87. doi:https://doi.org/10.5125/jkaoms.2014.40.2.87

Toledano-Serrabona J, Cascos-Romero J, Gay-Escoda C. Accidental dental displacement into the maxillary sinus during extraction maneuvers: a case series. Medicina Oral Patología Oral y Cirugia Bucal. Published online 2021:e102-e107. doi:https://doi.org/10.4317/medoral.24054

Wolff J, K. Hakki Karagozoglu, Bretschneider JH, Tymour Forouzanfar, Engelbert. Altered nasal airflow: an unusual complication following implant surgery in the anterior maxilla. 2016;2(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s40729-016-0045-3

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