The daily care and maintenance of dental implants is very similar to the care of natural teeth. When caring for dental implants, it is important to maintain the health of your gums and the implant-supporting jaw bone tissue.
Dr. Shawna Hoffert of Red Maple Dental in Asheville, NC wants you to be informed about the best way to care for your dental implants. When dental implants are properly cared for, they can last patients decades.
Can Dental Implants Get Infected?
Because dental implants are artificial with a titanium screw as a root and a ceramic crown as the tooth, it is impossible for the implant or crown themselves to develop a cavity or for the “tooth” to become infected. However, the lifespan of the dental implant can be threatened when the gum and jawbone tissue around the implant becomes infected, a condition known as implantitis.
When the gums become inflamed, dental implants can become covered in sticky, bacteria-infested plaque. These are the same destructive bacteria that cause periodontal infections in natural teeth. Plaque, a substance formed by saliva and leftover food particles in the mouth, if not removed by brushing, flossing and routine professional cleaning, can form dental calculus. Calculus is what is formed when plaque hardens into hard deposits that can eat away at the supporting gum and bone that surround the implant and hold it in place in the jaw.
Once calculus has formed, this deposit cannot be brushed or flossed away anymore and can only be removed by a professional dental hygienist using specialized tools. If the calculus is not removed this can lead to receding gum tissue and bone loss and may result in the implant falling out.
How To Keep Dental Implants Healthy
To avoid the formation of calculus and your gums becoming irritated and inflamed, your dental implants should be brushed at least twice a day and flossed at least daily as is recommended for your natural teeth by your Levesque dentist and the American Dental Association. Performing regular oral hygiene after meals is especially important to remove food particles that are stuck between teeth and can lead to tooth decay. You should brush with an ADA-approved toothbrush to make sure it’s done properly and will not damage the implant or your surrounding teeth or gums.
Dr. Hoffert advises using the following:
- Small, soft, ADA-approved manual toothbrush or an electric brush
- Low-abrasive, tartar-control toothpaste
- Dental floss for cleaning around the implant
- Antimicrobial mouth rinses
Not only should you perform dental hygiene at home daily, but be sure to schedule regular visits with Dr. Hoffert. It is recommended that you have a professional exam and cleaning every 3-6 months to spot and treat any issues with gum disease early. For this same reason, you should also have your dental implants examined by x-ray annually.
What Happens If I Don’t Take Care Of My Implants?
Implants can develop serious issues without consistent daily care. Bleeding from the implant site — known as mucositis — is usually the first sign of a problem with the implant. The current research suggests that mucositis may be successfully treated and reversed if spotted and treated early enough. Unfortunately, if the condition progresses to the point that bone loss — peri-implantitis — has occurred, it is not reversible. If peri-implantitis is allowed to go untreated it can lead to the implant becoming loose or even fall out.
What Should My Dentist Check For At Every Cleaning?
Dr. Hoffert and her team of hygienists need to probe and measure the gums around the implant the same as they do around your teeth, checking and compare x-rays annually, looking for looseness. They will also check your bite to ensure all of the implant’s components are attached properly and are functioning correctly.
What If I Want Implants Or Need My Implants Checked?
If you think you would benefit from implants due to missing or broken teeth or need the implants you already have inspected, Dr. Hoffert and her team at Red Maple Dental in Asheville, NC are ready to help. Please call us at (828)-358-1925 or schedule a consultation online today!