When planning dental implants, a dentist must identify any relevant risk factors that might jeopardize the long-term survival of your dental work. Bruxism (teeth grinding) can pose a risk to dental implants, but whether action is required will depend on the severity of the condition. So how can grinding your teeth potentially damage a dental implant? And what sort of precaution might be required?
The Strongest Part of Your Body
The dental enamel that coats your teeth is actually the strongest substance in the human body. It's not indestructible, though, and dental enamel erosion is one of the most prominent factors that can lead to tooth decay. Over time, bruxism can severely compromise dental enamel. The regular application of pressure as teeth are ground into each other can wear your protective dental enamel away.
Connection to the Jawbone
Arguably, natural teeth are better equipped to deal with bruxism than dental implants are. This is because they're held in their sockets with periodontal ligaments, giving their foundations some elasticity, which is helpful when they're subjected to the pressure caused by bruxism. Dental implants are anchored into your jawbone, which means that the ongoing pressure of bruxism can ultimately destabilize the implant. This can be a particular concern during osseointegration.
Movement During Integration
Osseointegration is the process during which your jawbone fuses to the implant base, even growing new bone cells to hold it securely into place. Any movement during this process can lead to unsuccessful osseointegration, which means the implant has failed. As you might have guessed, the pressure of bruxism can cause the implant to move during osseointegration. How can your dentist prevent this from happening?
If bruxism is a concern in your case, your dentist may suggest a night guard. This is a lightweight thermoplastic retainer worn over your teeth at night, which is when uncontrollable bruxism tends to be a problem. The retainer prevents your upper and lower dental arches from making direct contact; the pressure of bruxism is absorbed by the retainer, which spreads out this pressure across its surface without redirecting it to the teeth. It's a simple yet extremely effective way to protect your new dental implant (and your natural teeth) from the harm of bruxism.
Bruxism can certainly lead to the failure of a dental implant, but it might be that a small piece of thermoplastic is all you need to prevent this from happening.