Open Incision Line After Dental Implant Surgery: What You Need To Know

Dental implant surgery involves the creation of an incision line. This is the incision made in your gingival tissues and through to the part of your jaw where the implant will be placed (your alveolar ridge). The peak of the implant is fitted with a cover screw, which will be buried in your gingival tissues, and won't be visible. The tissues should in fact heal over this screw, meaning a smaller, secondary incision will be needed when your dentist fits the final prosthetic tooth to your implant. This whole process can be disrupted if your incision line should open.

Exposure of the Implant

One of the positive things about dental implant surgery is how uncomplicated it tends to be. An open incision line isn't a common outcome, but it's important to be aware of the possibility, as quick action may be needed to save your new implant. This premature exposure of the implant can disturb osseointegration, which is when your jawbone fuses to the implant.

Potential Complications

Interrupted osseointegration can result in the loss of crestal bone (the bone that is healing around the implant's neck). It also makes you far more susceptible to infection, which can cause implant failure, as osseointegration becomes impossible in such compromised tissues. It's likely that your exposed incision lines mean no fresh tissue is forming (healing) over the implant site, which can be cause for concern. 

Potential Causes

An open incision line can have a number of causes. You may have failed to follow your aftercare instructions, and improper oral hygiene can lead to an open incision line. Excessive oral hygiene (brushing too hard) can have the same effect. Alcohol use and smoking can also contribute to the problem. Alternatively, it may be an issue with implant placement (or more specifically, its angle), or inadequate suturing over the site. Whatever the cause, you must have the problem assessed.

Treating an Open Incision Line

For minor instances of an open incision line, no direct intervention may be needed, especially if fresh tissue is still forming over the implant site. You will be advised to use an antiseptic rinse (containing chlorhexidine) to keep the site as sterile as possible. If the problem should be noted shortly after implant placement, your dentist may simply apply new sutures. If the site has undergone some healing, it can be more complicated to add new sutures to these newly-formed tissues. It might be necessary to allow these tissues to further heal before they can be sutured again to protect your implant during osseointegration.

If the incision created by your dental implant surgery doesn't seem to be closing (and may be opening to a conspicuous width), then please see your dentist without delay.

For more information on dental implant surgery, contact a professional near you.