One of the biggest advances in dental technology over the past twenty years or so has been the increasingly widespread use of dental implants to replace missing teeth. Whilst dentures do have some advantages, such as removing the need for a procedure in many cases, they also have a number of drawbacks for a lot of people who wear them.
Dentures can be fiddly to clean and sometimes become unstable. There is also the problem of bone loss when a tooth root is lost. On all three counts, dental implants offer a solution to these problems. Because they include a replacement root as well as a crown, bone loss is minimised and they are much more stable. They are also easy to keep clean as we will see in this blog.
Before we move on to everyday cleaning and maintenance of your dental implant, it is worth stressing that the first 3 months after it has been placed are very critical. This is a time when damage and infections are most likely to occur and you will need to be more careful about what you eat and how you clean the implants.
You should avoid harder foods for this period and probably eat only liquid foods for a short while. Cleaning can be more difficult too as you won’t be able to brush the area for a short while after the procedure. During the initial period, you will need to use a warm saline solution tipped over the area gently with no spitting or other forceful movements. Your Sync Dental Centres dentist will discuss this immediate aftercare with you in detail when you have an implant placed at our Addlestone clinic.
Long term dental implant aftercare
Once your new dental implant is established and you can eat whatever you want once more, it is still very important to continue to look after them well. Despite the fact that the crown can’t decay as it is made from an artificial material, there are still potential threats to the implants. These come predominantly in the form of periodontitis and peri-implantitis. These are infections of the gum, bone and soft tissues surrounding the implant. If these become too advanced, the bone holding the implant in place can deteriorate, causing the implant to become loose or even fall out.
The good news is that taking care of them is not at all difficult and is very similar to looking after your natural teeth.
Brushing your implants
You should brush your dental implant as you would a natural tooth. Although the crown can’t decay, we do recommend that you brush it to remove bacteria and it will also help to prevent any possible staining from building up on the surface. Most importantly, do make sure to brush around the gums well, angling the bristles so that they reach slightly underneath the gum line, removing food debris and any bacteria that may have collected there.
Everybody should floss between their teeth, without exception. This is especially important for those with dental implants. As we noted earlier, periodontitis is one of the biggest threats to dental implants and is a form of gum disease. When food and bacteria become trapped in difficult to reach spaces such as between the teeth, gum disease can eventually follow. Flossing may feel a little tricky initially, but with a bit of perseverance, you should soon find it easy enough to do. If you do find it difficult, please talk to the hygienist at the Sync Dental Centres who will be happy to show you how to floss correctly.
Whilst home care is essential, the value of professional care should not be underestimated. Your dentist will monitor your natural teeth and also your dental implants during your check ups. This is important as any problems can be treated early where necessary.
You should also see the hygienist every six months or so for a professional clean known as a scale and polish. However well we clean our teeth at home, there are almost always some deposits of bacteria and minerals that collect and start to harden, making them impossible to remove through brushing alone. The hygienist will scrape away excess tartar and then shatter the rest, using a sonic implement, before finally brushing your teeth using a high speed brush. This is a non invasive treatment that has huge benefits for your dental implants and oral health in general.
Whilst the vast majority of people with dental implants have no problems with them if they look after them correctly, we are always here if you should have any concerns or questions about yours. This applies whether it is a day after their placement or ten years later. Ongoing care and maintenance is important so please so contact us if you are unhappy or unsure about anything. Don’t just hope that it will go away.
If you are interested in finding out how you can benefit from a dental implant and would like to talk to the dentist about it, please call our Addlestone dental clinic on 01932 856541.