Dental Implant Care
Dental implants can be expensive, however, people who have them done have noticed how much better they are compared to traditional dentures and bridges. “They’re very much worth the cost as they’re pretty much impossible to tell them apart from my natural teeth”. – Unnamed Implant Recipient. Others have appreciated the stable chewing surface implants provide; the feeling is as close to a natural healthy full set of teeth as one could expect. Despite being like natural teeth, implants need different care than just your regular dental routine.
Dental implants are titanium pegs inserted into the jawbone. In time they will fuses to the surrounding bone tissue. On the surface of the implant a connection called an “abutment” firmly attaches the custom-made crown, bridge, or dentures. Surrounding gum tissue quickly grows around and secures to the prepared surface of the abutment creating a naturally looking tooth or section of teeth. The roots of natural teeth, like the implant, sits in bonny pockets of the jawbone but is held firmly in place by the periodontal ligament that penetrates the tooth root and the jawbone using tiny fibers of strong but flexible tissue. Multiple blood vessels supply the animate tooth and surrounding tissue.
More Susceptible to Infection
Because implants are inanimate, they lack the infection-fighting capabilities of natural teeth. Natural teeth as mentioned are surrounded by a never-ending supply of antibodies and white blood cells in addition to oxygen and nourishment; without those blood vessels, an implant is much more susceptible to infection. Gum infections around implants are common and spread quickly. If the gums close to the abutment of the implant are infected, they can become dislodged or pull away. If the infection spreads to the bone the entire implant can be in jeopardy.
Get Regular Checkups
If you have implants, it becomes more important to have regular checkups. Dental hygienists can help with maintaining and keeping them extra clean. They are careful to use softer plastic dental tools on implants as even small scratches on abutment surfaces can reduce the gums’ ability to attach. This area must remain clean and polished to prevent bacterial growth and infection. Ultrasonic tools are also used by hygienists to effectively clean implants. This technology uses high-frequency sound (vibrations) to remove contaminants and is gentle on implants that are inherently softer than natural teeth. An antibacterial mouth wash will often proceed the ultrasonic cleaning to get any escaping bacteria that is dislodged in the process.
If you notice that part of the titanium anchor of the implant has become exposed or visible, this should be reported to your dentist quickly as it could mean the bone socket has eroded. Implant pegs or anchors are threaded so that the bone can grow around them and secure them in place. If this thread is exposed, it creates a problem as they become difficult to keep clean. Any exposed areas need to be thoroughly cleaned using a brush to get into those crevasses.
Over 95% Success Rate
Despite some possible problems, implants have a great success rate of over 95%, and they are superior to dentures and bridges in many ways. But the importance of rigorous cleaning and consistency with your dental routine can not be overstated. Brushing twice daily with a soft-bristle toothbrush and a low-abrasive toothpaste and flossing to ensure all sides of the implant are clean is a must. A good antibacterial mouth wash used as part of your routine is also a good idea.
On top of daily home care, two-annual cleanings by a hygienist are necessary so that the implants don’t become infected. With proper care, your implants will provide you with decades of use, and will look great!