Delayed Jaw Implant Infections

Q: Dr. Eppley, I had a question I was hoping you could shed knowledge regarding delayed jaw implant infections. I had jaw implants placed two years ago and just yesterday I noticed some tenderness on the right jaw implant, specifically more on the bottom/underneath, in the middle of the jaw line (as opposed to any tenderness at the back of the mandible). No noticeable swelling as of yet, and no trauma to speak of…..but I did get over a bad bacteria-based throat infection about three weeks ago, so hoping the bacteria didn’t travel and infect the implant. In your experience, are late-stage (over at least a year) bacteria  (so non trauma initiated) jaw implant infections a pretty regular occurrence? Anything I should really watch out for before seeing a doctor? 

A: In my experience such potential delayed jaw implant infections have not occurred…unless there is some small opening in the original incision lines inside the mouth. (that is known or unobserved) The occurrence of blood borne infections seeding an implant would be extremely rare. I am sure in the annals of surgical history it has happened but not something that would ever be considered either common or expected. To make an  analogy, think of all the women in the world that has breast implants and the common illnesses that occur but yet we don’t hear about such delayed implant infections occur.

Dr. Barry Eppley
Indianapolis, Indiana