Clean & Maintain Dental Implants
Dental implants are one of the best ways to restore one or more missing teeth. For the most part, cleaning around your dental implant is the same as cleaning your natural teeth but it does take a little extra care. Dental implant is a titanium post that acts as the root of a tooth onto which a dental prosthesis is affixed, be it a crown, bridge, removable or permanent full or partial dentures can all be used as the restoration on a dental implant. An abutment is used to secure the dental prosthesis to the implant. In order for an implant to be successful, bone and gum tissue needs to be properly cared for.
How can I prevent implant infection?
The biggest key and preventing implant infection is maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. Implant supported tooth restorations depend on healthy surrounding tissues for support. When plaque and bacteria collect on implant crowns as it does on natural teeth, it must be removed daily with proper flossing and brushing. Without daily removal of plaque buildup, an infection called peri-implantitis can develop. Inflammation around an implant can quickly lead to bone loss around the infected implant and can rapidly progress and lead to implant failure.
Implant patients can benefit from more frequent professional dental cleanings than patients without implants. Your dental hygienist will play a key role in keeping your implants infection free. They will use special instructions for cleaning your implants that will not damage the crown, abutment or the implant itself. Maintaining the smooth, polished surface of the abutment and crown are critical. If they are scratched they can attract and harbor bacteria which is why the instruments used, called scalers and curettes, are most often made of plastics and resins. Natural teeth do not scratch like porcelain so metal instruments can be used to clean them.
As well as manual instruments, an ultrasonic instrument with a nylon or plastic sheath to minimize implant damage may be used on a low power setting. Ultrasonic instruments clean by using frequency vibrations and water which may be necessary if large quantities of plaque have accumulated. Sometimes, an antibacterial solution may be incorporated.
If an infection has developed and caused gum recession or bone loss, a portion of the implant itself may be visible. The surface of the implant is typically rough to encourage osseointegration which can make the implant difficult to clean and disinfect. Brushes are used to clean biofilm (bacteria and plaque) from exposed implants when possible but sometimes, plaque has hardened into calculus and requires the use of other instruments to remove the contaminants.
Even though dental implants require more frequent professional cleanings and good home care, implants have a success rate between 95% and 97%. Preventing peri-implantitis is crucial to the health, function, and longevity of dental implants. If you need help learning to care for your dental implant, speak with your dental hygienist and dentist for direction.