Dental Implant Infection - How Serious Is It?

Dental implant infection is not unusual, and is usually minor and of short duration. Infection can occur at any time, but there are 4 particular times when it may crop up:

1. Right after the implant surgery. You can get a small infection under the gum; This happens most often within 2 weeks of the implant surgery.

It is not unusual to get a minor infection around the implant. This usually settles quickly with a short course of antibiotics.

2. Later on, the gum over the implant can get a little swollen and red. Sometimes you might see a little pus coming out.

At this stage of the proceedings, this is frequently caused by the loosening of a little screw that seals the implant. This can be treated by re-tightening the screw, and with antibiotics.

A rare situation may occur during the healing phase where the bone around the implant does not heal after the surgery. It becomes infected, and the the area is extremely painful. While the infection can be reduced with strong antibiotics, the bone will not heal with the implant in there. The implant must be removed.

Dental Implant Infection

3. After the implant has settled, and the crown or bridge put on, it is possible to get a minor but persistent and annoying inflammation around the neck of an implant. This can be due to the tiny microscopic gap between the implant and the crown, hiding bacteria. The gum edge just gets red and slightly puffy.

Lab model of an implant

4. The last possibility of dental implant infection is when you don't clean around the implant carefully enough. Bacteria can build up gradually, just like on a natural tooth, and cause gum inflammation. Over a period of time, it could lead to the gum shrinking back from around the implant, allowing the dental implant to work loose. By then, it's too late.

So it is very important to clean around your implants very slowly and carefully. You can't do much about the first 3 possibilities, but you definitely CAN eliminate the 4th by careful brushing and flossing at home!

The best antibiotic to use for these infections depends on a couple of factors.

  • First, if you have any allergies to specific antibiotics!

  • Second, what other medications you are currently taking or have taken recently.

  • Third, whether the infection is in the jawbone or in the soft gum.

For bone infections, Clindamycin is probably the best. It penetrates bone extremely well and can be used at a relatively low dose, typically 150mg four times a day.

Bottle of Clindamycin

However, Clindamycin must be used with caution as it can cause serious stomach problems in some people. For soft gum infections, either Amoxycillin or Metronidazole are good. You must avoid alcohol if you take metronidazole.

To sum up, dental implant infection is not unusual. It does not necessarily spell the end of your implant, but should be treated as quickly as possible.