Dental Implants - An overview
Dental Implants can be a great solution for anyone missing their adult teeth as they offer a functional and usually long-lasting solution. Patients often choose dental implants because of their durability and the effective manner in which they blend in with existing teeth. Dental Implants require careful treatment just like any natural teeth. It’s important for patients to understand how to care for their implants, as well as to have them regularly monitored by a dental professional.
Your oral hygienist and your dentist will explain how to look after your dental implants during your regular check-ups and provide you with proper care instructions to ensure your implants last for a very long time.
Dental implants must be cleaned differently to natural teeth because they attach to the gum and surrounding bone structure in a different way.
Review Date: 5/1/2012
Authored By: Valerie Sternberg Smith, RDH
Reviewed By: Dr. Garry A. Rayant, Editor-in-Chief, Dear Doctor, Inc
How to maintain dental implants
Dental Implants can be subject to infections and can accumulate plaque and tartar if food or other material gets stuck underneath them. That’s why it’s important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine to ensure your treatment lasts for the long-term.
In a healthy patient, the implant will be attached or integrated to the surrounding bone structure. However, if plaque accumulates, the surrounding gum tissue can become infected which can potentially lead to the loss of bone and the implant.
It is important to understand how to maintain your dental implants to ensure proper care post-operatively:
· Swelling: significant swelling may occur at the site of the implant for the first few days following surgery; this will usually resolve over time. However, you may find it beneficial to apply an ice pack to the affected area. Ice packs can be substituted with frozen vegetable packs or other frozen packaging.
· Infection: Without proper care, the dental implant may become infected when bacteria from the oral cavity penetrate into the gaps between the actual implant and the above structure. If these bacteria spread to the surrounding area they can cause a condition called peri-implantitis.
· Diet: It is best to avoid chewy food during the first three months after receiving the implant. During this time the implant bonds with the underlying bone so that a diet of softer foods may be more favourable.
· Oral hygiene: Our experienced dental team will advise you on a cleaning schedule and recommend products and show you techniques to make sure that your implants receive the proper care they need. It is very important to brush and floss regularly, and a soft tooth brush will help you to apply as little pressure as possible on the healing area. It is important to stick to this cleaning routine at all times and attend the regular check-ups so the condition of the implant can be closely monitored
Your dentist and oral hygienist will assist with maintaining your implants but it is the patient’s responsibility to keep the dental implant free from bacterial build-up.
What to do in the case of infection/peri-implantitis
If you feel pain and your gum around the implant appears swollen and sore contact your experienced dentist for an assessment. Depending on the severity of your infection and the possible damage of the dental implant and the gum tissue the treatment will vary. Usually, as a first step, your dentist will thoroughly clean the affected area and disinfect it. Sometimes a course of antibiotics may be prescribed.
It is of the highest importance to see your dentist as soon as possible if your dental implant has become infected as it is often extremely difficult to repair a damaged or otherwise exposed implant surface and in most cases it won’t reconnect to the underlying bone structure.
Call our experienced dental team if you have an implant and experience any of the symptoms above to ensure the appropriate treatment can be administered in case you suffer from an infection.