An estimated three million people receive dental implants each year. A more stable, stronger substitute for missing teeth, dental implants can help improve your smile. One or two teeth may be replaced with an implant, abutment and crown combination or you may be given a set of implant-supported dentures.
Dental implants function like your natural teeth in terms of stability, stimulating bone growth and improving bite strength. Considering this, appropriate care helps maintain their function and reduces rejection risks.
This strategy involves regular brushing and flossing to control bacteria and plaque while lessening potential infection, inflammation and bone loss. Before getting dental implants, here’s what you should consider.
Issues with Dental Implants
Dental implants have a distinct advantage over your teeth: They will not erode or develop cavities! Yet that doesn’t mean implants don’t need to be brushed and maintained. Each implant is supported by a post going through the gum to the jawbone. Neglecting to brush and floss between your implants can cause biofilms and plaque to develop.
Bacteria may travel below the gumline, where it can inflame the tissues and accelerate jawbone loss. Poor care of dental implants can result in:
- Bleeding gum tissue, a condition known as mucositis
- Inflamed or swollen gums
- Chewing and bite issues
- Pain around the gums
- Loosened implants
Basic Dental Implant Care
Once you receive dental implants, you’ll be given a care plan following the procedure. The surgery helps stabilize the posts, but your implants can take up to six months to completely heal. Care will involve cleaning your mouth, gums and implants to control bacteria.
From the moment you receive your dental implants, effective care is essential. Post-surgery:
- Consume liquids and soft foods for the next five to seven days.
- Stick with bland, medium or cold-temperature foods and avoid anything spicy.
- Stay away from alcohol for at least three days after surgery, as it can slow healing.
Daily Care of Dental Implants
Dental hygiene is no different for implants. You should still brush at least twice per day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and low-abrasion toothpaste to remove plaque without scratching the implants and inflaming your gums.
Patients may also want to consider using an interdental brush, a smaller-sized tool that can fit in between existing teeth and implants to control bacteria and plaque. Don’t forget to floss at least once a day too, even if you use an interdental brush. Follow this routine with an antibacterial mouthwash to remove any remaining microorganisms.
Along with daily care, continue seeing your dentist every six months for a cleaning to assess the quality of the implants and check for any factors that could lead to premature failure.
For Single Implants
If you had one or two dental implants added to your mouth, brush around and under the crown. Use of an irrigator or water pick can wash away any remaining food particles.
For Implant-Supported Dentures
Along with dental hygiene, you’re advised to remove your set of dentures each day to soak in a denture-specific cleaner. As you do this, visually inspect the clips and O-rings for wear, then brush the dentures and rinse them off once they’re done soaking. Should you spot signs of wear, let your dentist know so adjustments can be made.
Beyond brushing and flossing your dental implants, consider factors that could crack or otherwise damage the material making up the crown:
- Avoid hard foods, especially when you have a temporary crown.
- Be aware of teeth grinding or bruxism, as you may need a mouthguard to protect your implants.
- Avoid biting down on hard objects, including pens, bottle caps, ice cubes and fingernails.
- Consider cutting up harder fruits before you take a bite.
- Quit smoking and tobacco use, as this can inflame your gums and increases risk for tooth loss and implant failure.
To learn more about dental implants, contact Smile Dental Center today.