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It would be difficult to find a surgical procedure as successful as the placement of dental implants. Most studies estimate their success as being anywhere between 95 to 98% globally. That being said, the procedure does involve the use of high-speed drills in close proximity to a number of vital structures of the oral cavity. As with all surgical procedures, there are some inherent risks involved in an implant procedure.
Risks Associated With Implant Placement
This is by far the most common risk and one that is overlooked most often. It is very important the procedure is performed under aseptic conditions, with all the instruments being properly sterilized. Patients and dentists alike simply take this as a given, but reality shows that a high level of oversight and procedural competence is required to achieve good infection control.
There is nothing wrong with asking the doctor what kind of sterilization protocols will be followed. None of the sterilized instruments should be touched with a glove free hand, the orient must be properly draped and the operating area must be separate, organized and clean.
Infection at the site of implant placement can prevent healing from taking place and may even lead to an early implant failure. The patient may face problems like swelling, persistent pain, pus accumulation, and mobility of the implant. Mild infections can be expected to heal with a course of antibiotics, however serious infections require the removal of the implant.
In cases where additional bone grafting is also required, the need to avoid infection becomes even more critical.
Our jaw bones are chock full of nerves, arteries and veins running through them. They are also relatively sensitive to mechanical damage if improper forces are applied to them.
The two structures that are injured most often during implant placement include the inferior alveolar nerve in the lower jaw and the maxillary sinus in the upper jaw.
Both of these and indeed all injuries can be avoided with proper planning. In the case of the maxillary sinus, though, most cases will resolve on their own and only show up clinically as a persistent sinus infection. In rare cases, the implant itself can get dislodged into the maxillary sinus and may need to be removed through direct sinus surgery.
Injury to the nerve is much more serious and long lasting in effect. A slight injury to the nerve may result in a temporary loss of sensation to the areas which the nerve devices, however, more serious damage to the nerve can also result in permanent loss of sensation and paralysis of one side of the jaw.
Thankfully, in complex cases, dentists can now make use of advanced radiographic techniques like CBCT which allow for a 3D pre-operative view and pinpoint precision planning.
The surgical skill of the dentist also comes into play in these situations. As a patient, it is better to be under the care of doctors who have been trained specifically in implantology.