So, you’re resting up from getting your new dental implants and wondering how to best care for them. We might tell you that caring for implants is just like caring for natural teeth but there has to be differences, right?
While implants might be very different from natural teeth they still face the same problem that your originals did: oral bacteria. The best way to prevent the harms of oral bacteria is definitely keeping your mouth clean, but what does that mean for dental implants?
At Panama City Smiles we want every single one of our patients to be satisfied with the dental implants we’ve placed for them. It’s not hard to get the results you want, but there are potential risks you need to know about.
How Your Implants Are Different From Teeth
Dental implants look and feel like teeth, but there are a lot of differences that make caring for them just a bit different than caring for natural teeth. Implants consist of a titanium screw that is placed in your jawbone, where it integrates with the bone and forms a permanent connection. That makes your implant feel and behave like a natural tooth, but it’s also where one of the big differences begin.
A natural tooth sits in its socket separated from the bone by a thin layer of tissue called the periodontal ligament. The ligament is made up of tough fibers that attach to small channels in the tooth, making an incredibly strong seal. The periodontal ligament continues to hold onto your tooth all the way up to the gumline, giving it a security and stability that’s hard to destroy.
Implants, on the other hand, don’t have tissue between them and your bone. As you reach the abutment that tops your implant gum tissue bonds to it directly without the aid of periodontal ligament. Your gum tissue bonds in a different way – it’s almost like a bunch of suction cups that hold your gum tissue to the implant.
As you might guess, gums don’t form nearly as tight a bond with implants as ligament does with natural teeth. This gives you a slightly higher chance of getting bacteria down below your gumline, which leads to a gum disease-like condition called peri-implantitis.
Caring For Your Implants
Peri-implantitis is a dangerous condition. At first it looks like gingivitis: just a bit of redness around the gums, or maybe some slight bleeding when you brush. As it continues to advance it will actually destroy the bone that holds your implant in place! When this happens it can be difficult to place a new implant – the bone tissue can actually be lost to the point where surgery is required first!
If you want to make sure your dental implants stay healthy and happy there’s a lot you can do, and we’re going to help you make the right choices! Proper implant care includes some lifestyle changes along with proper home oral health care, so be sure you follow all of these steps.
- Smoking is one of the biggest risks to your dental implants. If you are a smoker we advise you to quit as soon as you can – you’re likely tripling your risks of implant loss!
- Brush your teeth twice a day, using a soft-bristled brush. Hold it at a 45-degree angle to your gum line to ensure you’re getting rid of all the bacteria that’s gathered there during the day. You should always brush for at least two minutes each time.
- Flossing is essential! Every time you fail to floss your teeth you’re leaving behind a bunch of bacteria that can quickly find its way below the surface of your gums. Make sure you get between each of your teeth (and your implants). Pay attention to each side of the space, and make sure you get your floss down below the gums just a little bit as well. Don’t worry – it won’t hurt. If you feel any pain it’s likely that you’ve hit a small pocket of gum infection. Clearing it out is how you eliminate that pain!
Don’t Forget About Regular Dental Care!
Just because your implant isn’t real doesn’t mean you can let it be ignored by the dentist. We still need to see you twice a year for cleanings and exams so that we can catch problems early, get bacteria out of hard-to-reach spots, and keep your implants and teeth safe for years to come.
If you have any questions about caring for your dental implants we encourage you to give our Panama City office a call right away at (850) 588-0185 – we’re here to help!