How Your Chewing Habits Can Affect Dental Implants
When having dental implants placed, there are certain factors that can affect the process. Even though dental implants have a success rate of about 95-96%, certain factors can cause a small percentage of dental implants to fail. Generally speaking, dental implants fail when they are unable to osseointegrate, or fuse with the surrounding bone. Therefore, factors that prevent or complicate osseointegration can increase the risk of implant failure.
At a glance, possible factors that can affect implant success include bone mass in the jawbone, oral hygiene, gum health, diet, and whether or not the individual smokes. However, a recent study conducted by dentists at RUDN University and published in the European Journal of Dentistry, has possibly identified yet another factor that could affect the success of dental implants.
The objective of the study was to determine if chewing habits, specifically changes in the dominant chewing side after dental implant placement, can affect the success or failure of the implant. It is based on the notion that most people have a dominant chewing side, meaning that they tend to do most of their chewing on one side of the mouth. The article notes, “Most people don’t chew symmetrically on both sides of the jaw but have a dominant side that accounts for up to 75% of chewing movements’. As a result, the teeth on the dominant side absorb more force, while the jaw joint on the opposing side has to work harder.
To determine whether or not a change in the dominant chewing side affected dental implant placement, researchers monitored 64 patients aged 21-66 who had implants placed on one side of their mouth. Additionally, these patients had minor defects in the lower jaw, practiced satisfactory oral hygiene, and were free of periodontal disease. All 64 patients received dental x-rays of their teeth and CT images of their jaws before the study began. They also had their chewing strength tested.
After having their dental implants placed, the patients were required to return to the researcher’s office to repeat these tests once between 3-6 months post op and a second between 9-12 months post op. Patients were also asked to answer a questionnaire regarding their chewing habits. Out of all 64 patients, 40 (62%) reported changes in their dominant chewing side, while 24 (38%) said they had no change. Those who experienced a change in their dominant chewing side attributed this change to the fact that they had previously chewed on that side prior to some dental issue that interrupted their chewing. Therefore, having dental implants placed allowed them to return to their chosen dominant side of the mouth.
Once researchers knew who changed their dominant chewing side and who kept it the same, they divided these two groups into subgroup A: changes in dominant side and subgroup B: no changes. Group A was found to have changes in their bone structure that suggested bone resorption, or jawbone deterioration, at the 3-9 month mark. In group B, only one individual was seen with the same changes, however they did not occur until the 9-12 month mark. With this data, researchers concluded that changes in the dominant chewing side could increase the risk of implant failure.