How can an implant be sensitive if it isn’t a tooth?

This is an xray of a dental implant with a crown replacing one missing molar

Implant restored teeth have no nerves or ligaments that attach them to bone. They can not sense hot or cold, and when they are well integrated can not feel pain on biting pressure. Patients with dental implants sometimes do present with this complaint and it is usually not a good sign. In my experience, it usually turns out that the patient either has a failing implant or an implant with a gum infection from extra crown cement.

In both these events, the bone around the implants can be “dissolving”. In the case of a failling implant, usually the best course of action is to have the implant removed as carefully as possible, and the site be prepared for a future implant replacement. In the case of a cement pericementitis (gum infection from extra cement around an implant crown), the best first treatment is to have a surgery involving the gum around the implant abutment with the purpose of removing any extra cement that may be causing the inflammation. If caught in time, the implant may not have to be removed, since once the source of the inflammation (leftover extra cement) is removed, the situation can improve.

Of course there are other causes of sensitivity, such as a local gum infection around an implant crown, and this situation can be addressed by deeply cleaning around the implant crown and having a patient take an appropriate antibiotic for a week. If the infection doesn’t respond to the antibiotics they may have one of the two earlier mentioned problems.

Dr. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario. If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer!