Dental implants experience rare yet problematic mechanical failures such as fracture that are caused, most often, by (time-dependent) metal fatigue. This paper surveys basic evidence about fatigue failure, its identification and the implant’s fatigue performance during service. We first discuss the concept of dental implant fatigue, starting with a review of basic concepts related to this failure mechanism. The identification of fatigue failures using scanning electron microscopy follows, to show that this stage is fairly well defined. We reiterate that fatigue failure is related to the implant design and its surface condition, together with the widely varying service conditions. The latter are shown to vary to an extent that precludes devising average or representative conditions. The statistical nature of the fatigue test results is emphasized throughout the survey to illustrate the complexity in evaluating the fatigue behavior of dental implants from a design perspective. Today’s fatigue testing of dental implants is limited to ISO 14801 standard requirements, which ensures certification but does not provide any insight for design purposes due to its limited requirements. We introduce and discuss the random spectrum loading procedure as an alternative to evaluate the implant’s performance under more realistic conditions. The concept is illustrated by random fatigue testing in 0.9% saline solution.
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