One in four patients experience bone loss following a dental implant, a rate far higher than previously thought, reveals a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gotenburg in Sweden, HealthDay News reported.

Researcher and dental surgeon consultant Christer Fransson examined 600 X-rays of people with dental implants and found 28 percent, or 168 of the participants, had lost some supporting bone around their implants.

The more implants patients had, the more likely they were to have supporting bone loss. In addition, implant patients who smoked experienced more bone loss than non-smokers.

“Contrary to what we had previously assumed, the bone loss in these patients was not linear, but instead accelerated with time,” said Fransson, also the study’s author. “This is a new discovery that shows just how important it is to detect and treat bone loss around implants at an early stage.”

Fransson’s findings also revealed that inflammation was common in soft tissues surrounding an implant with bone loss.

“It’s important to examine the tissue around implants in the same way as we examine the tissues around teeth,” Fransson said. “In that way we can notice early signs of inflammation and treat it before the bone loss has any serious consequences.”

Read RH’s “What’s Behind Your Smile?” to learn how oral health is linked to overall wellness.