Dental implants are widely spread throughout dentistry and have become mainstream for many patients. In the past, patients were presented other options…go without a tooth or teeth, wear a removable denture, or have a cementable bridge made. Dental implants have allowed for a great additional option which does not cut down existing teeth, and is strong and unmovable. Unfortunately, many of us forget that dental implants need to be cared for and maintained just like natural teeth.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are an artificial tooth root (usually made of titanium) that a periodontist or oral surgeon places into your jaw to support restorations that resemble a tooth or group of teeth. Dental implants can replace a single tooth, support a bridge, or support a denture (making it more comfortable and secure).
Dental implants are an ideal option for people in generally good oral health who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, injury, fracture or decay. Dental implants are actually more tooth saving than traditional crowns and bridges, since dental implants do not cut down healthy teeth or rely on adjacent teeth for support.
Sufficient bone, and good overall health will give you the best prognosis for ideal oseointegration, (the way bone fills in around the implant for strength). Dental implants are intimately connected with the underlying bone and gum tissues in the mouth. So, proper fit, good occlusion, and excellent oral hygiene are necessary for long term success. With technique and material advances, dental bone grafts are now more successful than ever and can be used to augment your natural bone. Periodontal disease, diabetes, bleeding problems, etc. can cause difficulty in placement, healing and longevity of the dental implants. Be upfront with your dentist regarding health issues so that the proper steps can be taken to give you the highest chance of success. There is an increased risk of failure in patients who are smokers. For this reason, dental implants are frequently placed only after a patient has stopped smoking.
Top Tips For Caring For Your Dental Implants
–Toothbrushing. Usual toothbrushing applies. It is recommended that you brush twice a day but it is even more beneficial to brush after every meal if that is possible.
–Flossing. Yes, flossing is important even with dental implants. Flossing is able to clean around the dental implants along the gum line. Just because the dental implants cannot get tooth decay it does not mean you cannot lose them. Bone loss is still possible around the dental implants which can lead to their loss.
–Maintain Regular Dental Visits. Dental implants should be cleaned with different types of dental instruments as not to scratch the surface. They should again not be cleaned with ultrasonic or vibrating dental instruments of any kind. It is important to examine the dental implants at least once per year along with your regular professional cleaning schedule. Your dentist will evaluate the bone levels along with the soft tissues and occlusion. The important takeaway here is to have frequent examinations to catch any issues that might arise early enough so proper corrections can take place.
–Use A WaterPik. A great way to clean around dental implants is to use WaterPik. The WaterPik is a water spray that cleans in between and around the teeth. But keep in mind again too much pressure may cause damage to the pocket so keep it at the lowest level possible. Recent studies have shown the WaterPik to remove up to 145% more debris than regular dental floss alone. Periogen in the waterpik can help remove tartar buildup around implants making it easier to keep them clean.
–Do Not Smoke. Smoking has been known to decrease oxygen flow to the gum tissues. This results in delayed healing, deterioration of the oral tissues, and bone loss. Bone loss and inflammation will cause your implant to loosen and fall out. If you want to protect your investment, do not smoke.
–Avoid Extremely Hot Liquids. Dental implants are made of metal and metal has ability to retain heat more readily than our oral tissues. If you drink extremely hot liquids, the metal of the dental implant may heat up from the liquid and stay hot. The heat may cause a burning of a thin layer of cells around the implant. With repeated small damages this may cause inflammation around the implant. This is not backed by research, but is worth mentioning.
Caring For Dental Implants Conclusion
Just like your natural teeth, dental implants should be maintained if you wish to keep them. With proper maintenance, both at home and in the dental office, dental implants can last a lifetime. Dental implants can strengthen, and enhance your smile for years to come.