Many dental procedures have defined contraindications. This is a technical term relating to a patient's current health and any preexisting medical conditions which can adversely impact the proposed treatment — meaning it's unlikely to be successful, or may even harm the patient. Dental implants have certain contraindications, usually occurring when a patient has inadequate bone or gingival tissue to support the implant (which can be corrected with bone and/or gingival grafting). In some cases, bruxism (grinding your teeth) may be a contraindication for receiving a dental implant. Is it possible to overcome this obstacle?

A Risky Situation

Bruxism may increase the risk of dental implant failure, but it doesn't automatically lead to it. It can create a potentially risky situation, which must be managed to preserve the implant. When an implant is placed in your jaw, it triggers a process called osseointegration — with the implant fusing with the bone. This takes anywhere from two to six months. Bruxism during this time can prevent successful osseointegration. However, bruxism after this time can reverse osseointegration. Should the implant lose its connection with the bone, the implant will fail and will need to be removed.


Many instances of bruxism take place while you sleep. Your teeth are being forcefully ground together, which can begin to erode your natural dental enamel, while your implant is also absorbing excessive biomechanical forces. This can easily be prevented with something that guards your teeth overnight — namely, a night guard.

Night Guards

A night guard looks much like a retainer or an orthodontic aligner. It's a thin thermoplastic cover that slots over your entire upper or dental arch. The plastic creates a physical barrier that protects your teeth. Instead of grinding into each other, your teeth are being pressed against the night guard. As such, their enamel won't be eroded, nor will your dental implant receive excessive force that can destabilize it. A night guard can be mandatory for someone with bruxism who receives a dental implant. 

Daytime Bruxism

Although bruxism can be a nocturnal phenomenon, it can also happen while you're awake. Being aware of the condition and making an effort to curb your grinding can be helpful but isn't always such a straightforward strategy. Some drugs (both prescribed and recreational) can contribute to bruxism. An alternative prescription (which doesn't trigger bruxism) may be available, and any abuse of recreational drugs will need to be addressed. Psychosocial factors (stress) can also play a role in your bruxism, and it may be necessary to identify and manage these causes of stress to reduce the severity of your bruxism, which will help to preserve your dental implant. 

Bruxism isn't a definitive contraindication for receiving a dental implant, but it must be considered and effectively controlled if your implant is to last. Talk to your dentist to discuss if dental implants are right for you.