Dental implant failure is not very common if the implants are installed properly to begin with, and all the possible health issues and other factors that might influence the success of the treatment are considered beforehand. However, implant failure still can happen, and you need to know how to identify it early on to get immediate treatment. In this article, we will look at the signs of dental implant failure and answer the question: “Can an X-ray diagnose dental implant failure?”

Can an X-Ray Diagnose Dental Implant Failure?

The short answer is yes, an X-ray can diagnose dental implant failure. It is especially useful as a method of examining the bone structure around the implant. In most cases, an X-ray will reveal a bone loss in the area that prevents the implant from being stably secured in its place.

However, other factors can cause the failure of dental implants, and an X-ray is not always the most efficient way to diagnose it. First of all, your periodontist will examine your implants, gums, and bone around the implants. The diagnostics can also employ a CT scan to evaluate the supporting structure of the implant and the source of discharge if it is present.
X-ray versus CT Scan in Dentistry


In dentistry, an X-ray is a photograph of the teeth, bones, and gums. This diagnostics method is helpful for finding issues or diseases of teeth, jaw, and other tissues in the mouth. Your dentist might use an X-ray to check for issues that might not be identifiable during a visual examination: cavities, impacted teeth (teeth that are trapped underneath the gums), and bone loss. In addition, X-rays can be used after a dental procedure to determine the success of the treatment.

There are several types of dental X-rays that might be used in the course of treatment with dental implants:

  • Periapical X-rays is used to examine the tooth of the whole, including its roots (or metal posts in case of dental implants), and the bone supporting it. This type of X-ray is mostly used to identify cysts, impacted teeth, and bone loss.
  • Panoramic X-rays shows the entire lower jaw area and can be used to identify a variety of issues from cysts to alignment issues.
  • Bitewing X-rays mostly shows the alignment of the back teeth when a patient bites down. It can also identify tooth decay.
  • Occlusal X-rays can be utilized to identify jaw fractures or other oral trauma and growths.

CT Scan

In some cases, cone beam CT scans in dentistry can provide your doctor with more information than an X-ray. The advantage of this method is that it can image bone and soft tissue simultaneously. Your dentist might suggest a CT scan when:

  • identifying the cause of implant failure
  • diagnosing temporomandibular joint disorder
  • planning reconstructive surgery, checking for cysts or tumors
  • and for evaluating the jaw and teeth in general

Sings of Dental Implant Failure

If you notice any of the signs listed below, consult with your dentist immediately. You might get a referral for an X-ray, which will determine the cause of the issue. X-ray can also show the condition of the bone supporting the implant: in some cases a bone loss around the post of the implant can be the cause for the implant failure.

Mobility of an implant when touched with a finger or tongue. In the first stages, the mobility of the implant might be very slight, and only your dentist will be able to spot it. However, with time, you might start noticing it itself as the failed dental implant gets progressively wobbly and starts moving while chewing or talking.
Pain and swelling in the area of a failed dental implant. These symptoms can also be caused by infection in the area.

Why Can a Dental Implant Fail?

The risk factors for dental implant failure include:

  • Gum disease and bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching). These factors can prevent the implant from healing properly. However, a good dentist will always check if gum disease is present before the dental implant procedure and suggest a course of treatment.
  • Health issues like osteoporosis. It might negatively influence bone strength and density making it difficult for the implant to properly fuse with the bone.
  • Cancer treatments in progress typically make dental implant treatment undesirable because cancer therapy might prevent the normal bone healing process.
  • Taking certain medications (for example, antidepressants) can negatively affect bone metabolism and lead to dental implant failure.

Some of these factors, like gum disease, can be prevented by the patient. Make sure to maintain proper and thorough oral hygiene before and after the treatment. This helps to avoid any unnecessary inflammation and infections in the mouth.

Make an Appointment Today

Do you suspect issues with your dental implants or need a consultation? Do not hesitate to make an appointment at LA Wilshire Perio today. Our dental specialists are looking forward to welcoming you to our office.


1127 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 812
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Tel:(213) 481-2699