Dental implants are wonderful restorations since they are permanent and can last a long time. Before you undergo a dental implant procedure, you should learn how to take care of your implant at home and why regular appointments are so important for implant care.
At-Home Dental Implant Care
After your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you should brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day after healing. Whether you choose a manual toothbrush or an electric one, make sure you choose one with soft nylon bristles. Soft bristles are easier on gum tissue, and they are also better for implants since hard bristles can actually scratch the surface of your implant.
The type of toothpaste you choose is important as well since too many abrasive ingredients can actually wear down the glaze on porcelain implants. Ask your dentist to recommend a good toothpaste brand, as RDH Magazine says that even high-fluoride concentrations—combined with a low pH—can etch or corrode implants.
While regular floss can work fine for some people, you may want to use crown/bridge floss instead. This type of floss has two stiff nylon ends that make it easier for people to thread the floss through the area where the implant abutment and false tooth meet. The middle portion of the floss has a softer, fuzzier texture so that it can gently clean around the area where the porcelain and gum line meet. This type of floss is also good because it doesn't shred easily. Shredded floss can irritate the gums and contribute to peri-implantitis.
Peri-implantitis is an inflammatory process that affects hard and soft tissues around the implant. Some people think that peri-implantitis is only a risk immediately after surgery, but this condition can occur later on if a person has poor oral hygiene. However, with good care, peri-implantitis can be reversible.
Lastly, you may want to invest in an oral irrigator (water flosser) to use before you brush to loosen up debris that may be getting around or underneath the implant. An oral irrigator can send a jet of water to effectively clean hard-to-reach areas. If you don't want to use an oral irrigator, an interdental brush can work well to clean hard-to-reach areas—especially around the gumline.
Care at the Dentist's Office
Your implant can collect plaque just like your natural teeth, so it's important to keep your regular cleaning appointments to get this tartar removed. During these visits, your hygienist will use specialized scalers and curettes that are made of plastics so that they don't scratch the implant. If your hygienist uses ultrasonic instruments, these will typically have plastic or nylon tips to minimize scratching.
Besides cleaning the implant, your hygienist will look for any exposed portions of the implant post. Exposed posts could be a sign of infection, gum recession, bone loss, or peri-implantitis. Your hygienist can catch these issues and make sure that they get treated so that your implant doesn't have to be removed.
Both at-home care and preventative care at the dentist's office are important to maintain your restoration after your implant surgery. Contact a dentist today for more information.