Certain Medications Can Cause Dental Implant Failure

If you plan to get dental implants within the next few years, it's important to already be thinking about risk factors for implant failure. One risk factor involves certain kinds of medication people take that can reduce new bone production. This makes it difficult for the implant to fully bond with the jawbone.

About Regular Bone Formation

The body continually reabsorbs bone while also forming new bone. If not enough new bone is produced, the risk of fractures increases, and so does the risk of dental implant failure. The implant must fuse with the bone in a process medically known as osseointegration. If new bone production is too low, osseointegration can be compromised. 

Two Examples of Drugs That Can Cause Implant Failure


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can decrease bone formation. SSRIs are some of the most commonly prescribed medications to treat depression and anxiety; they include drugs such as fluoxetine, sertraline and paroxetine. 

If you want to stop taking your SSRI, work with your doctor so you can avoid any withdrawal symptoms. You may need to decrease your dosage gradually. If your depression or anxiety symptoms return, you may want to begin taking a different medicine that doesn't affect bone formation.


Bisphosphonates are useful for people with osteoporosis as well as for cancer patients whose disease has spread to the bone. The drugs stop a large amount of the normal bone reabsorption that regularly takes place. However, when taking this medicine, new bone formation also does not occur as it normally would. Even though bone mineral density is maintained, dental implants may not be able to fuse with the jawbone. 

In addition, some people taking bisphosphonates have experienced actual bone death in the jaw, although this is rare. The effect is related to the lack of new bone formation. Older bone becomes more brittle, and without enough new bone, the body cannot repair any tiny fractures that develop during forceful chewing.

It may be surprising to learn that these episodes of very minor jawbone damage are common; while the bone daily replaces old bone with new, the damage is quickly repaired. 


Long-term therapy with an anti-inflammatory steroid such as prednisone also causes problems with new bone formation. Doctors may prescribe this type of long-term medication for individuals with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma.

Concluding Thoughts

It's not too early to consult your dentist about which medications can cause problems for people who want to get dental implants. If you want to switch to a different medicine, you may need time to work on this with your doctor to make sure an alternative works well for you.