Dental implants are a common treatment option for adults to replace missing teeth. Implants may also be used to stabilize a denture for function and comfort.
Dental implants vary in types, heights, and sizes. Your dental implant professional may help you determine which option is ideal for you, depending on your needs.
There are primary types of dental implants and these include:
- Endosteal – Such dental implants are placed in your jawbone. Usually shaped like small screws and made of titanium, they’re the most commonly used dental implant.
- Subperiosteal – These are placed under the gums but above or on the jawbone. This kind of dental implant are recommended for patients without enough healthy natural jawbone and can’t or don’t want to undergo a procedure like bone augmentation to rebuild it.
To ensure the longevity of implants, particular efforts and techniques are necessary to keep them clean as well as free of destructive plaques and bacteria. These microorganisms are responsible for the infections in the tissues around the implants, resulting in failure. Without tenacious removal, peri-implantitis may develop, which can lead to implant loss.
Dental hygienists have a crucial role to play in keeping dental implants free from any disease. The traditional dental hygiene scalers used on the natural chompers may scratch an implant, crown, or abutment. So, your hygienist will use special gizmos made of resins and plastics to clean your implants thoroughly without causing any damage.
However, as an implant recipient, you also have a responsibility to take care of your implants. Below are some of the ways on how you can do it:
Cleaning Single Implants
- Use Soft-Bristled Toothbrushes
A toothbrush with soft bristles is less likely to damage your gums. It does not also cause bleeding and is as effective as hard or medium bristles in removing plaque and tartar.
An electric toothbrush is also effective in removing bacteria from the teeth compared to the usual manual toothbrushes. It is because electric toothbrushes generate a high number of brush strokes than human hands.
But, no matter what you choose between a manual or electric toothbrush, see to it that it has soft bristles.
- Use Water Flosser
Also referred to as a dental water jet or an oral irrigator, water flossers disrupt and eliminate bacteria in the pocket depths, which measure up to 6mm deep. A lot of water flossers feature some rubber-tip stimulators and some attachments made to accommodate sensitive gums and clean the hard-to-reach areas between the teeth effectively.
Most dentists recommend water flossers rather than dental floss since several floss brands may shed particles, which contribute to peri-implantitis. Make sure to use water flossers first since you do not want to blow away the toothpaste that’s introduced during flossing and brushing.
- Don’t Forget To Brush At Least Twice Daily
Brushing after waking up gets rid of the bacteria buildup and bad morning breath. In the evening, brushing before bedtime can help remove bacteria, which builds up throughout the whole day and lessens the risk of decay and plaque buildup overnight. Most dentists encourage brushing after meals or any time of the day to eliminate bacteria and food debris.
- Choose Low-Abrasive Toothpaste
When taking care of your implants, make sure to use a toothpaste that lacks some abrasive ingredients like a stain-remover agent or baking soda. These ingredients may remove the glaze and wear on acrylic from your porcelain implants.
If possible, find a toothpaste that is specially formulated for dental implants. If you don’t have a clue about what to use, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist for any recommendations or suggestions.
- Consider Using Crown and Bridge Floss
Crown or bridge floss is specifically designed to scrub around and under dental implants. Basically, it has a fuzzy middle and stiff nylon ends that cleans the surface of the dental implants and the porcelain. The stiff ends allow you to insert the floss in between the implants at your gum line and can be pulled through to the other side. Then, you may lean it against the surface of the implant and rub it on the side.
It is also a great idea to use the floss after brushing while the residue of the toothpaste is in your mouth. It allows you to distribute fluoride around your dental implants, which helps in avoiding any unwanted bacterial growth.
- Brush Around And Under The Crown Of Your Dental Implant
Plaque and bacteria can accumulate around and under the crown of your dental implant, which increases the risk of having peri-implantitis. To reach such areas, you must consider using an interdental brush or angled-neck toothbrush with a slim head. You should do this most particularly if your dental implant is situated at the back of your mouth.
Cleaning All-On-4 Implants
Generally, all-on-4 implants are all teeth being supported on 4 dental implants. It’s a technique and surgical prosthodontics procedure for rehabilitation of edentulous patients or for those who have badly broken, compromised, or decayed teeth because of gum disease.
Cleaning all-on-4 implants is the same as cleaning single implants. However, there are considerations to keep in mind. With these implants, food particles may become trapped easily between the base of the gum line and bridge to increase the risks for infection.
Below are the things you should keep in mind when taking care of all-on-4 implants:
- Follow The Tips On Cleaning Single Implants
Since all-on-4 implants are made from the same materials as single dental implants, it should be cared for in the same manner using a water flosser and soft-bristled toothbrush. You must also brush twice daily with the use of non-abrasive toothpaste. However, extra attention should be paid to get rid of the food debris that gets stuck between the gum line and the bridge.
- Consider Using Sulcus Brush
Sulcus brushes are 1/3 the width of the regular toothbrush and effective in cleaning the bridge’s part, which transitions to the soft tissue. Most patients with all-on-4s suggest that sulcus brushing makes dental implant care routine easier.
- Use Rubber-Tip Stimulators
Many water flossers come with a rubber-tip stimulator, which can gently get rid of food particles that are trapped between the gum line and the bridge. You may use this attachment on the water flosser at least once daily to eliminate bacteria and food debris from all-on-4 implants. In addition to that, stick on using low or medium settings only since high settings can separate tissues from the implants in other cases.
Additional Tips To Prolong The Life Of Your Dental Implants
Dental implants can’t decay, but your supporting bone and gums remain subject to inflammation, bacterial decay, and infections without proper implant care. In addition to that, regular deep cleaning of dental implants is necessary to prolong their lifespan.
Below are some of the tips to prolong your dental implant’s life:
- Regular Dental Visits For Deep Cleaning
Consider visiting your dentist regularly. It is recommended at least twice yearly depending on your oral health. Your visit may help the dentist maintain not just your overall oral health and dental implant’s health. It allows dentists to check that your dental implants are properly functioning and will function long term.
- Seek Teeth Grinding Treatment
Bruxism or teeth grinding may put additional pressure on dentures and dental implants to cause lasting damage.
- Floss On A Regular Basis
Flossing teeth may get rid of any plaque that remains or stuck in between your teeth. Therefore, it is recommended that you floss daily so there aren’t any plaque or food particles that may cause all types of issues. See to it that you floss gently so there’s no tooth, gum or implant damage.
- Choose The Best Toothbrush
Whether you have natural teeth or dental implants, choose the right toothbrush for your needs. You might want to use an interdental toothbrush made to clean around the braces, wide spaces, and bridges. It enables more maneuverability as well as helps with dental implant maintenance and post-surgical care. Several dentists recommend the use of motorized toothbrushes, most particularly if manual dexterity is a problem.
If you do not know which type of toothbrush is best for your dental needs, you must speak with your dentist about the right toothbrush for your needs.
- Use Protective Appliances
If recommended by your dentist, occlusal guards will reduce the occlusal load on the dental implants during night time clenching or grinding. Moreover, retainers may be fabricated for patients, which have dental implant proximal to the natural teeth, preventing open contacts from developing.
Due to periodontal ligament’s presence, natural teeth are dynamic in comparison to a dental implant that’s ankylosed to the bone and won’t move. An open contact may result in interproximal caries in peri-implant diseases and natural teeth.
- Interproximal Aids
As mentioned above, a water flosser can disrupt the bacteria in the pocket depths that measure up to 6mm deep. But, it’s a technique-sensitive approach when it comes to interproximal care. You have to be educated on what techniques you should consider. You must also be advised to use a water flosser on low-pressure settings.
Other recommendations in terms of interproximal cleaning may include the use of products that promote gingival stimulation including proxabrushes, soft picks, and rubber tip stimulators. When choosing a dental floss, choose a type that doesn’t leave particles behind or doesn’t shed as it may contribute to peri-implantitis.
Don’ts When Taking Care of Dental Implants
When taking care of your dental implants and maintaining good oral health, there are several things you should avoid at all costs and these include the following:
- Avoid Damaging Beverages And Food
During the first several days, you must avoid the majority of drinks and food aside from soft meals such as oatmeal, pudding, and jello. Milk and water are good to drink, but you need to be careful not to swish liquids around your mouth as it may delay the healing process of your implants. You must also avoid chomping hard candy and rough foods. It is also necessary to avoid very hot meals or liquids. If possible, chew on the other side of your mouth for several days.
- Avoid Smoking
The most essential factor when taking care of dental implants and keeping them in place or secure has something to do with smoking. Smoking cigarettes will reduce the bone in your mouth, which can cause the bone on the upper teeth to rise up and the bone on your lower teeth to fall down. Usually, that sequence of events happens overnight, but it may happen in just a short period of time so you will notice the changes in your mouth.
Having bone loss because of smoking may cause some threads in your mouth to hold onto some bacteria and plaque. Then, the plaque and bacteria will be the culprits that cause more bone loss. Other than bone loss, the buildup of bacteria and plaque may cause an increase in bad breath with possible infection and tooth decay.
- Avoid Abrasive Cleaning Products
Hard- or stiff-bristled toothbrushes, strong cleaners, and baking soda are some examples of abrasive cleaning products, which may damage your implants permanently.
- Avoid Too Much Sugar
Dental implants may not decay, but sugar is a reason why there is a buildup of plaque. Basically, plaque causes gum disease. Thus, your dental implants are vulnerable because gums are vulnerable as well.
What you usually consume will have an impact on your overall oral health. Starches, sugars, and acids are tough on your gums and teeth. However, the solution is not to give them up. It is actually to be aware of how much you take precautionary steps and the amount of your consumption to limit their impact.
- Avoid Chewing Hard Items
Pencils, ice cubes, and hard candies are examples of the items that may either damage dentures or break your crowns.
It is important to take care of your teeth. However, if you have dental implants, it requires extra care to maintain your oral hygiene. Just make sure to keep those things in mind to avoid possible problems and if you need help, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist as soon as possible. Routine professional maintenance appointment is imperative to ensure longevity and maintain dental implant health.