The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene Habits
Although dental implants do not decay, plaque (a sticky biofilm) can form on the surface of the exposed portion of the implant. This buildup can lead to gum disease that can eventually cause gum tissue recession or bone degeneration, which can compromise the stability of your implant.
Whether you have an implant-supported crown, bridge, or denture, brushing twice a day is critical to lowering the presence of plaque and preventing the buildup of tartar. Flossing may require special considerations.
Traditional floss cannot reach the areas between implants. For those areas, a floss threader can be an effective cleaning device to clear buildup from under the denture or bridge or to remove plaque from around the implant. A quality water flosser can also be an effective tool for washing away plaque near your implants.
Antimicrobial (therapeutic) mouthwashes are an effective tool for cleaning and maintaining dental implants. If you have specific questions about which brands to use, a member of our dental team will be glad to offer suggestions.
Know Your Risk Factors for Complications
Maintaining good oral hygiene habits and avoiding certain risky behaviors during the weeks and months following dental implant placement is critical for ensuring that your gums and jawbone heal properly. You should refrain from consuming alcohol for several days following implant placement.
Tobacco use is a leading cause of implant failure. Individuals who use tobacco products generally have lower bone density. Tobacco also inhibits the immune system, which can place a patient at an elevated risk of peri-implantitis, a potentially serious infection of the bone and tissue that supports the implant.
While certain steps, such as reducing tobacco use, can lower your risk of peri-implantitis, your best bet for lowering your risk of implant failure is to cease using cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and other tobacco products.
Injury and trauma are also risk factors for dental implant failure. Wearing protective gear (such as a mouthguard or helmet) and avoiding activities (such as boxing or kickboxing) that could lead to an impact to the face can lower your risk of damaging your implant.
Other Considerations for Maintaining Your Dental Implants
Beyond maintaining good oral hygiene habits and avoiding certain risk factors for complications, eating a healthy diet can promote oral health while protecting your dental implants. Lowering sugar intake and eating a plant-based diet has been proven to lower plaque buildup that can damage the supportive structures of your implants.
Regular visits to our office for cleanings and exams can further ensure that your implants last for a lifetime. During your regularly scheduled visit, one of our doctors will carefully examine each of your dental implants to look for signs of damage or infection. Our office offers digital x-rays that provide detailed images of your implants without the use of excessive radiation.
Any potential problems can be addressed at that time or during a follow-up visit. Since many potential problems may not be outwardly visible, the expertise of our doctors is critical for maintaining your implants.