6 Mistakes to Avoid When Placing Dental Implants

Results, results, results!

Ask any patient what their top 5 expectations are when it comes to getting dental implants, and you have the first three on the list mentioned above. However, that shouldn’t be a surprise: in this day and age more and more people are linking their confidence levels to aesthetics, and who doesn’t want to smile confidently? Thankfully, technology and skilled dental practitioners can meet those expectations by placing implants right after extractions – if need be. But, of course, with added pressure to deliver comes more room to make common dental implant mistakes (which can certainly be avoided!).

To significantly reduce or eliminate any margin for error, a strong educational background and willingness to continually upskill are essential. It takes just one botched case to ruin a practice’s reputation and become a “before” image for another practice’s successful “after” image.

The goal, ultimately, is to manage the cases as predictably and effectively as possible, and that’s only achievable by staying on top of the latest dental implant tools and techniques. The Implant and Aesthetic Academy offers a comprehensive range of implantology courses hosted by the likes of internationally renowned implantologist Dr Howard Gluckman.

Of course, implant dentistry is no walk in the park, and mistakes are bound to happen. Question is: do professionals know what the signs are that something might go wrong, do they know how to correct it in the moment and will they learn from it so that it doesn’t happen again?

Let’s take a closer look at 6 common dental implant mistakes.


1. Ignoring the implant manufacturer’s protocol

Do not think that implants from different manufacturers have the same surgical protocols – it’s an assumption that can lead to many problems down the line.  It’s not uncommon for a dentist to be comfortable with a particular manufacturer’s system; in fact, getting well-acquainted with a protocol and knowing it inside out is part of delivering error-free work. However, as mentioned, things in the implant industry develop all of the time, and being open to other manufacturers is important in order to consider implants that will give patients the best possible results.  So, when the time comes to try out a different implant manufacturer, be sure to read up on the protocol specific to that implant. It’s not a copy-and-paste transition. Of course, dentists do need to be able to improvise here and there (see paragraph on managing complications), but follow the guidelines set out by the manufacturer for the best outcome.

2. Inability to anticipate and manage complications

On the one hand, mastering the predictability of a procedure is essential, but that doesn’t mean dentists should get comfortable to the point of complacency.  Ideally, dentists should endeavour to avoid problems, but – as with most things in life- mistakes do happen, and it’s now a case of managing the complications. Typically, complications arise from biological factors (unsuccessful osseointegration or the presence of peri-implantitis, for example) or a run-in with technical difficulties (issues with the protheses). Dentists need to strike the balance of proceeding predictably and have the skills to anticipate and improvise accordingly. Not two cases are necessarily the same!

3. Not factoring in adequate healing (and other basics)

Much like architects needing to understand the possibilities and limits of a site where a building needs to be erected, dentists need to fully understand the implant site, including the basic biology and tissue behaviour. The latter- which is determined by hard or soft tissue- will play a major role in determining the right-flap repositioning and suturing techniques, which of course, vastly influence the patient’s healing (and aesthetic results).

Another common dental implant mistake is implant angulation. Beginners can certainly use a surgical guide, but should also other reference areas in the mouth, such as other teeth, anatomical root variations and the occlusion table.

Last, but certainly not least- make sure your suturing skills are up to scratch. Different cases can call for different techniques, so there is no one-stitch-fits- all method.  Subpar suturing can lead to bacterial infections and very unhappy patients.

4. Placing the incorrect size and number of implants

Not fully taking occlusal considerations into account, in conjunction with underestimating the number of implants needed to support the occlusal load completely is a recipe for disaster. But with multiple planning tools, like CT scans and 3D modelling, at dentists’ disposal nowadays, this common mistake shouldn’t be as common as it is.

Often, dentists try to avoid grafting due to a patient’s request, but it’s important to remember who the dental professional is and that occlusal forces, bone and anatomical structures all determine whether or not grafting is necessary for the right implant

Just make sure you have all your proverbial ducks in a row when it comes to explaining your informed executive decisions to the patient.

5. Overlooking the impact of lateral forces

Similarly, not paying attention to the impact of lateral forces will certainly cut the “lifespan” of an implant short.  It will also cause issues for both the restorative dentist and the dental surgeon.  In this case, both experts to work closely to ensure the actual implant is placed in such a way that it doesn’t affect the restoration.

6. Underestimating the importance of teamwork

On the topic of communication, teamwork should never be minimized when placing implants. Everyone, from the surgeon and restorative dentists to the lab technicians and assistants, must work in harmony to achieve the best possible results for the patients.  Remove ego from the situation and accept the fact that additional support, expertise and suggestions all add to successful implant surgery, and certainly help to avoid common dental implant mistakes.


Keep your goal in mind

Ultimately, it’s all about making the patient happy and giving them results that boost their confidence and improve their lives. You may be an expert, but there is always some room for developing and fine-tuning talents.


Enhance your dental surgery skills and expand your knowledge with one of The Implant and Aesthetic Academy’s comprehensive implantology courses.