Signs of dental implant infection

Updated February 21, 2017

A dental implant is a titanium anchor that is placed in the jaw bone to replace the root of a tooth. While implants avoid the bone loss and other problems that come with bridges and dentures, the area around the implant is occasionally susceptible to infection. The risk of infection is highest in the immediate postoperative period, but infection can occur at any time. The warning signs of a dental implant infection include pain, redness, a implant that comes loose, and an unpleasant taste or smell coming from the implant site.


Pain is normal after an implant is placed; your dentist will prescribe pain killers to be taken after surgery so that you are comfortable. If the pain does not diminish over time, or if pain increases again after it has gone away, it could be a sign that the implant site has become infected. Especially if it is months or years after your implant was placed, pain could indicate that you have a dental implant infection.

Redness in the Area Around the Implant

All dental surgery, including placing an implant, can damage nerves. In some cases, the area around the implant may become numb. This means that you may not always feel pain in the early stages of any infection. Any redness or swelling around an implant should be considered a warning sign of a dental implant infection.

Loose Implant

If you notice that the replacement tooth in the implant site doesn't seem to be as firmly attached as it used to be, it may be because the implant site has become infected. Just as periodontal disease can cause bone lose that leads to loose teeth, an infection around a dental implant can cause loss of bone around the implant. If you lose bone around the implant, it may become loose.

Unpleasant Taste

Bacteria in the mouth can cause an unpleasant taste. If you have carefully brushed and flossed, and still notice an unpleasant taste, there may be bacteria hiding in a place that your usual brushing and flossing can't reach. If you've developed an infection around the implant, you could have deep dental pockets around the implant that are inhabited by bacteria that home-based dental hygiene can't eradicate.

Unpleasant Smell

Bacteria can cause bad breath. If you have halitosis that persists after brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash, it may be caused by an infection around your dental implant. Your dentist will be able to tell if a dental implant infection is the source of the unpleasant smell.

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About the Author

Susan MacDowell is a freelance writer from New England. She is a CPA by training, but has many additional interests, including history, baseball, cooking, and travel. She's a native of New York, who now lives in Massachusetts and Maine.