As 543’s Oral Health Month continues, we’d like to turn our attention to the special care required for dental implants. If you’ve had one or more implants, you’ve made a choice to invest in the future of your dental health. So why would you then put it at risk by neglecting your oral hygiene?
Some patients think that, because implants are ‘fake’ teeth, they don’t require the same level of care as natural teeth. And they’re right – they don’t require the same care – they require more. Here’s why.
You’ve probably heard of gingivitis, or gum disease. Peri-implant mucositis is the dental implant equivalent, causing inflammation in the gums surrounding implants. The symptoms to look out for include gum soreness, swelling and bleeding. Both gingivitis and mucositis are precursors to more serious infections that can have devastating effects – but luckily both conditions are generally reversible with the right care. Unfortunately, if ignored, mucositis can lead to peri-implantitis – which will put your dental implant at risk.
If peri-mucositis is allowed to continue unchecked, it will likely develop into peri-implantitis. Where mucositis affects only the soft tissue (gums), implantitis infects the jaw bone that holds the implant in place. As you can imagine, this in turn will cause the implant to loosen and can lead to you losing the implant altogether. Unlike mucositis, implantitis cannot be reversed – only controlled. In other words, we can help you stop further loss of jaw bone, but can’t undo the damage that’s already been done. Which is why proper care and prevention are so critical.
With so much at stake, how can you ensure your dental health (and, let’s face it, your investment) is protected for the long term? Here at 543, we always say prevention is better than treatment, so we’re always eager to help you learn how to care for your teeth – natural or not! When it comes to implants, we’d urge you to maintain your regular twice-daily brushing routine, but take special care to clean around the implants and between your teeth and crowns. That’s because implants are attached to your jaw differently than natural teeth, and there are more places for trapped food and bacteria to hide. Gentle daily flossing, using dental tape, interdental brushes or even water floss machines, is very important. Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash between meals is also a great idea.
Perhaps the single most important piece of advice we can give you, when it comes to caring for your dental implants, is to come in regularly for your dental hygiene visits. Our hygienists here at 543 are specially trained to help care for implants. Not only can they give you bespoke advice on how to care for yours, but they’ll be able to spot early signs of trouble so we can nip it in the bud. With proper care, implants can potentially last a lifetime – we’d like to help you get the most out of yours!