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Rancid food inside dental implants and their crowns



Well-known member
Jul 9, 2022
When my dentist took the healing cap out of my dental implant to put in the impression abutment there was a horrible smell/taste of rancid food or anaerobic compost. I commented, and he said something like, oh that is a little food that got in there, it's OK. The same thing happened when he took the healing cap off again to screw in the crown temporarily, and again when he opened the crown to make it permanent. The crown had been stuffed with cotton and it smelled horrible, so I said, that is some nasty cotton, and he told me it was OK because he was going to put some teflon inside the crown instead. I have looked this up online and it seems you maintain access to the screw by putting teflon plumbing tape inside the crown. Basically my question is, do dental implants and crowns on them normally contain rancid food/bacteria eating the food, and is this harmful at all, or is it kind of safe because it is kept away from your tissue by being inside the implant or inside the crown? I have never smelled or tasted anything except during procedures where things were opened up like I describe but it is scary to think of that being inside there, and inside my jawbone.
One for Lincoln, I don't enough about implants to comment.
@Gordon Thanks anyways! If @drhirst wants to answer I would be very grateful. I have been trying to figure this out by internet research but I can't make sense of it and it seems so strange.
I had a little of the yucky taste when my healing caps were taken off, and I asked about it when my crowns were put on. I never had a temp crown, just the permanent ones, and the dentist told me it was not an issue. I haven’t had any problems with the implants getting infected but I would imagine bacteria inside the crown would die if it had nothing to feed on and no access to food. I am just guessing so hopefully someone else can give you a more accurate answer.
@MountainMama It's reassuring you noticed this and haven't had issues. I have a feeling that the crowns and the implant itself are not sealed so a little bacteria and food must be able to get in. Between the screw holding the crown and the socket of the implant, and into the crown itself through the screw hole at the bottom. I imagine the small gaps I am talking about aren't small enough that things like molecules of food and bacteria can't get into them. I imagine this could be OK because it would not harm the person because it is inside the crown or implant, and the mouth always has bacteria and old food in it anyways. It just seems creepy and scary and I feel like my breath is stinkier and my teeth are dirtier with more plaque and I don't know if I am imagining it or if its real and because of this implant. I feel some little pains or pressure there too and think I am probably just getting used to it, but of course it is creepy to think of that and then think of that smell and what is inside my jawbone. I know because of my particular type of dental fear I am very fearful that dental treatments will hurt me and not help me, or have side effects or a downside that I am not informed about, that ends up hurting me, so it is a bit of that getting to me.
In case it is of use to anyone who ends up looking at this thread in the future, I ended up getting this question answered (somewhat) by a dentist and a dental assistant on Quora. The dentist said:
"This is a problem with implants as tiny space between parts, between screw threads are harboring bacteria. Whether this can amount to trouble is not known? One only notices this when the implant parts are disassemble and replaced. That is why waterpik is great to flush this daily in addition to regular brushing with electric toothbrush." The dental assistant helped me out by searching answers for me online and found the following post made and commented on by some dentists discussing the problem of smelly decayed stuff inside dental implants, which may be out of date since it is from 2016. It seems like dentists may be a little vague on the subject, but rancid stuff inside implants is fairly common and is probably ok? https://www.osseonews.com/what-to-do-about-odor-when-healing-cap-or-abutment-removed/
Again for the use of anyone looking at this thread in the future, I have another answer from a dentist on Quora to my question and another link to some explanations of this phenomenon.
Dentist: "I don’t know if you have ever been around livestock, hogs in particular, the stink can be overwhelming for those not familiar with it. Not so for the farmer and his family who are exposed to, what is for them the “odor of money,” every day. Nothing you have mentioned as being recognized and addressed by the dentist in a case you have described, seems out of the ordinary to me."
Link to a group of dentists answering a similar question to mine from a patient:
This phenomenon depends on the type of seal between the artificial root part of the implant and the post part of the implant. Some connections are so close that bacteria cannot get in and some are not. The ones that are not are the ones that produce the rancid smell when the components are unscrewed.
I have never used the smelly ones myself but understand that they still work just fine, and do not have any ill effects on the patient. Many implant designs that are not completely sealed aim to keep any joins above the level of the bone to keep the bacteria from leaking and causing bone loss.

As implant designs continue to evolve I expect smelly connections to become less common.
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Thanks so much for the very informative and reassuring answer Dr. Hirst!
This particular one is listed on its website as being "bone level" I don't know if that refers to the joins or not. I am really happy to hear that you haven't heard about them having ill effects on patients. Thanks again so much for your help!
@MountainMama It's reassuring that you haven't encountered any implant infection problems so far. Regarding the yucky taste you experienced when the healing caps were removed, it's positive that your dentist didn't find it concerning when placing the permanent crowns. Bacteria within the crown might indeed have a harder time surviving without a food source, but it's important to remember that oral health can be complex. If you have any concerns or questions, seeking advice from a dental professional would provide you with the most accurate and personalized guidance.
The wonders of AI chatbots... :wow: