If you have a loose healing cap on your dental implant, you should strive to have it tightened by your dentist as soon as possible to avoid complications. It is a very simple procedure which we will describe below.
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How to tighten healing cap
The process to tighten a healing cap that has come loose is a very quick procedure. The appointment with your dentist will most likely take less than 5 minutes so you'll be in and out in a jiffy.
How to tighten a loose healing abutment:
Use the appropriate sized and shaped implant driver.
Twist in a clockwise direction until tight.
Check healing cap to make sure it is tight.
That's it, all it takes is three simple steps to have it tightened back up. There is absolutely no reason for you to be worried so get going to see your dentist already.
What to watch out for
We highly recommend having this procedure done with your own dentist who put the implant in because if you see someone else they may have trouble putting it back in. The reason isn't because they can't do it but rather different implants have require different implant drivers.
A mismatch between the driver and the healing cap will not work. An analogy would be how apply phones require their own specific charger. And no, dentists can't tell just by looking at the healing cap to tell what type of implant it is. This is why it is important to follow up with the same provider.
Signs of loose healing cap
It is easy to tell if your dental implant healing cap is loose because there are some very obvious signs and symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of a loose healing abutment:
You feel it moving when you touch it with your tongue.
You can move it with your fingers.
The healing abutment wobbles from side to side.
You can feel the healing cap twisting.
Food is getting stuck in the gums between the healing cap.
Typically when we get a call from our patients and they tell us that they think their implant healing cap is loose, they are rarely ever wrong. The point we're trying to make is that if you think it has come loose, you're probably right and you should see a dentist to have it tightened.
Causes of loose healing abutment
There can be many different reasons for the healing abutment screw to come loose. A lot of them are beyond your control so don't blame yourself if it happens.
Normal wear and tear. It can happen while you're eating.
It wasn't tightened enough. Maybe your dentist didn't screw it on tight enough.
Wrong sized cap. Sometimes switching to a different sized healing abutment can help.
The good news is that the fix is fairly simple.
Can I do it at home?
Unfortunately, you cannot tighten a loose healing cap at home because you don't have the correct instrument to do it. Each of the healing abutments require a specific shape and sized implant driver in order to fit into it.
You don't have access to these drivers nor do you even know the brand and size of your implant.
If you were bummed out about this, you shouldn't be because if you went to see a different dentist who didn't do your procedure, they would have a hard time figuring out what implant it is too. If they don't have the correct driver, they can't tighten it for you.
This is actually a problem in the dental implant industry. There are so many different types of implants and they all insist on using their own proprietary implant driver.
We've lost count of how many times we get a call from a new patient telling us that they have a loose implant healing cap or loose implant crown. Unfortunately, we can't do anything for them until they contact their original dentist to find out what the brand of the implant is.
Then they must notify us and if we have the correct part, we can tighten it for them. If we do not, then we can't help them and they need to find another dentist.
How many different types of implants are there? Well below is just a small sample which is not a full list.
Yes, there are far too many...
Consequence of leaving it loose
If your implant healing cap is loose, please do not leave it as is. You should strive to have it tightened up as soon as possible because treatment becomes more complex if it falls out.
Healing cap falls out. If you leave it loose, it may eventually fall out completely. This is a choking hazardous since the healing abutment is small and you may inadvertently swallow it.
Gums grow over the implant hole. If the implant abutment is left out for too long, the gums can grow over and cover the implant hole. Once that happens, your dentist can't simply screw it on again. They would need to expose the implant by making an incision into the gums. Does it sound more involved? Why yes it does.
Overall, if you permit either of the above two outcomes to happen, it will delay you from getting your implant crown. Typically the healing abutment phase is required right before you get the crown placed.
If you're forced to do extra procedures to correct for the fallen off abutment, you may require additional healing time before you can get your new implant crown.
A loose dental implant healing cap can be tighten with the correct driver and only your dentist can do it. The entire procedure should take less than a minute to complete. Therefore the simplest solution is to see the same dentist who did your procedure!