If you are considering dental implants, you should be aware of a potential health risk called "peri-implantitis."  Peri-implantitis is an infectious inflammation of the soft and hard tissues around a dental implant, and the long-term risks are significant. With the right dental specialists and proper oral care, this problem is completely avoidable or treatable. However, if contracted and not cared for quickly and correctly, peri-implantitis can become a serious and expensive health problem.

What is peri-implantitis?

Peri-implantitis is an infection that hurts gums, bones and other tissues surrounding dental implants. It is very similar to gum disease. Severity can range from minor inflammation of the gums to severe degradation of the teeth and  If left untreated, this often leads to patients losing their dental implants and developing other serious dental problems.

What are the symptoms of peri-implantitis?

Peri-implantitis is caused by the bacteria and food particles that gradually accumulate around dental implants and gum lines. For this reason, peri-implantitis tends to grow unnoticed in its early stages. However, later symptoms can become severe. Ranging from minor to dangerous, symptoms include:

Redness and inflammation of the surrounding gum tissue.

Deepening of the gum pockets around the implant.

Exposure or visibility of the implant threads.

Loosening of the implant.

Pus discharging from the tissues around the implant.

Loss of supporting bone.

Bleeding upon being probed.

Swollen lymph nodes around the neck.

Peri-implantitis if left untreated can progress to severe stage and eventually lead to implant loss.  If caught early, and with adequate supervision from a competent dentist, peri-implantitis can be treated before it ever causes undue discomfort or embarrassment.

What is the cause of peri-implantitis? 

There are three primary factors that influence your susceptibility to peri-implantitis:

Prior disease

Poor Oral hygiene

Parafunctional habits

Prior disease: patients affected by a disease that affects the whole body (known as systemic disease) can be extra susceptible to peri-implantitis. If you have diabetes or another systemic disease, consult with your dentist about your dental implants.

Additionally, if patients have ever contracted a mouth infection - like periodontitis - then they can be at a higher risk to developing another mouth infection, like peri-implantitis. Bring it to your dentist’s attention if you have ever been afflicted by periodontitis or other bacterial mouth infections.

Oral hygiene: If not cared for, plaque and tartar that are full of harmful bacteria and pathogens can easily build up around teeth and gums. These degrade tissue and cause irritation and infection. Other social factors can cause peri-implantitis, like smoking and drug abuse. What you put in your mouth affects your mouth; we advise extreme caution regarding what you place in your body.

Parafunctional habits: an easier term for this is "involuntary habit." In this case, peri-implantitis is isolated to habits like involuntarily grinding your teeth in your sleep (bruxism), poorly positioning your teeth - either due to misalignment or poor muscle control - when the jaw is fully closed (malocclusion), nail biting and thumb sucking.

How can I avoid peri-implantitis? 

If you suffer from systemic disease, or have had a prior bacterial infection, like periodontitis or peri-implantitis, consult with your dental specialist before and after receiving your dental implants.Have good oral hygiene care.  Brush your teeth frequently with proper technique. Use dental floss. About one third of your mouth’s plaque is between your teeth and in hard to reach places of your gum line. If you do not floss, then you leave all that plaque right where it is. If you suffer from any oral parafunctional habits (unconscious or involuntary habits with your mouth), like teeth grinding, poor jaw alignment or nail biting, seek help. Your dentist can provide several suggestions or treatments for these habits before they adversely affect your health.


Make sure you have a dental specialist perform dental implant surgery. When implanting "foreign objects" (like dental implants) in your mouth, you need a dental specialist who have solid experience and advanced training in proper techniques.  Poor dental work can make your personal oral hygiene difficult and painful, and can expose you to pathogens later.

How are peri-implantitis treated?

The standard treatments for peri-implantitis include the cutting open the gums and attempting to graft bone and other tissues, or removing and replacing the implant. These are both invasive procedures that do not necessarily address the cause of the bacterial infection surrounding the failing implant. It is prefered to use the REPAIR protocol using laser to target the bacteria that cause peri-implantitis without disrupting the stability of the implant itself. As a result, the predictability of success with REPAIR protocol is far better than either of the other options.

The REPAIR Implant Protocol is a new treatment capability of the WaterLase iPlus 2.0 and assists in the management of peri-implantitis. A special Radial Firing Tip (RFT) is part of the WaterLase. It emits a gentle corona of laser energy that removes necrotic tissue, infection, anaerobes and other undesirables from the implant surface and surrounding periodontal structures.