Yes, Definitely. It’s Called Peri-Implantitis.
Implants are just as susceptible to periodontal disease as teeth, especially if the other teeth present have periodontal disease. The same bacteria that infect teeth and cause periodontal disease also infect implants and cause peri-implantitis. Once periodontal disease starts on implants, bone loss can be more rapid than on teeth. This is because implants, unlike teeth, lack fibers that attach directly to the bone to resist the down-growth of infection. Your dentist or hygienist can detect it with a periodontal probe and X-rays which may reveal pockets, bleeding, pus and bone loss.
Several studies have found that as many as 56 percent of patients will develop peri-implantitis. A survey of periodontists reported that up to ten percent of implants must be removed because of peri-implantitis.
Once the implant threads are exposed, peri-implantitis is treated the same way as periodontal disease on teeth, including bacteria and parasite control (See TFBI2 on page 27), ultrasonic scaling and bite adjustment. Special attention is devoted to removing any retained cement on the implant crowns. New laser treatments, such as the Laser Assisted Peri-Implantitis Procedure (LAPIP), and bone grafting techniques show promise if the bone loss is not too severe.
Left: An X-ray of implants infected with peri-implantitis. Right: An X-ray showing new bone growth after LAPIP laser treatment.
Also, you can read more about the different diagnosis and treatments of various oral diseases by downloading a copy of Drs. Mark and Tom McCawley’s book “Saving Your Teeth, Implants And Your Health”.