You might worry that getting dental implants will saddle you with all kinds of special care requirements. However, the routine daily care of dental implants is very similar to the care you should already be giving your natural teeth. It is important to maintain the health gum tissue and the supporting jaw bone when you have dental implants. Dr. William Harper of Newport News, VA wants you to know how to best care for your dental implants because, if properly cared for, implants can last a lifetime.
Can Dental Implants Get Infected?
Since dental implants are completely artificial, the implant itself cannot fall victim to decay or develop a cavity. However, the life of the dental implant can be cut short if gum tissue around the implant are allowed to become infected and inflamed. This kind of infection — implantitis — affects the soft and hard tissues surrounding dental implants: the gums and the jawbone.
As the inflammation progresses, your dental implants can become covered in the same destructive bacteria-infested plaque that causes periodontal infections in natural teeth. If left undisturbed, the plaque can harden to form tartar — dental calculus.These rough, hard deposits can eat away at the surrounding gum and bone tissues that hold the implant in place in the jaw.
Once tartar has established itself, this deposit cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone. Only a dental hygienist with specialized tools can remove the calculus. Failure to remove this substance can cause gum tissue to recede and jawbone to degrade and may eventually result in the implant becoming loose or even falling out.
How To Keep Dental Implants Healthy
To avoid the formation of tartar, dental implants should be kept clean and free of plaque and bacteria by brushing twice daily and flossing at least once a day. Your teeth should be cleaned after meals by gently brushing with and ADA (American Dental Association) approved toothbrush, giving special attention to all sides of the implant.
Dr. Harper advises using the following:
- Small, soft, ADA-approved manual toothbrush or an electric brush
- Low-abrasive, tartar-control toothpaste
- Dental floss for cleaning around the implant
- Antimicrobial mouth rinses
Not only should you perform an oral hygiene routine at home daily, but you should also be sure to schedule regular visits to Dr. Harper or your trusted area dentist. The ADA recommends that you have a professional examination and cleaning every 3-6 months. And your implants should also be examined annually by Dr. Harper or your area dentist.
What Happens If I Don’t Take Care Of My Implants?
Serious issues can develop with your implants without consistent daily care. Bleeding is usually the earliest sign that you have developed a problem with your implant. This condition — mucositis –is reversible if caught early and successfully treated. Unfortunately if the mucositis progresses to bone loss — peri-implantitis –that condition cannot be reversed. If peri-implantitis is allowed to continue unchecked, advanced bone loss and the implant loosening or even falling out can be the consequence.
What Should My Dentist Check For At Every Cleaning?
Dr. Harper and his team of talented hygienists need to probe and measure the gums around the implant the same as they do around your teeth, checking and compare x-rays annually. In this way, by looking for looseness, and checking the bite, Dr. Harper can see if all of the components are still properly attached to the implant and are functioning as intended.
What If I Want Implants Or Need My Implants Checked?
If you have missing or broken teeth and are interested in implants or already have implants and need follow-up care, Dr. Harper and his team in Newport News, VA are ready to help. Please call us at 757.414.7227 or schedule a consultation online today!