Dental Implants are considered one of the greatest innovations in modern dentistry and are sought by many people to replace their missing teeth. Implants are safe and well-established procedures and will last for as long as you care for them. In the following article, we will cover how to properly take care of your dental implants immediately after surgery and what to do to maintain them for the longest period.
Why would you need to take care of your dental implants?
Dental implants are made of titanium screws, they do not develop cavities themselves, but if you do not look after them regularly, bacteria can still build up, multiply and release toxins around them, thus irritating the gums and ultimately causing implant failure.
Peri-implant mucositis is an inflammation of the gums that supports the implant, caused by plaque bacteria accumulation, this condition, if treated early, is completely reversible. On the other hand, if this inflammation is left untreated, peri-implantitis will occur, that is inflammation of the bone surrounding the implant, which can lead to irreversible bone loss, eventually leading to implant failure.
Sings of dental implant failure include:
- Inflamed and swollen gums.
- Gum recession.
- Loosening of implants.
- Pain upon chewing.
- Bleeding around implants.
The post-surgery care of dental implants
You should expect pain and swelling after the placement of your implants, these symptoms are common in any oral surgery, and normally reach a peak within two to three days. These symptoms are quite normal and both will subside after a few days. Swelling can be reduced with the placement of ice packs whileyou can take over-the-counter medication to manage the pain. Additionally, Bleeding is as common but will disappear within a few hours, if not; please contact your dental practice immediately.
Your dentist will give you clear after-care instructions, verbal and in writing. Not following these instructions will hinder your healing process.
- Do not smoke for the first couple of days, so to allow your oral tissue to heal properly.
- Avoid physical exercises to minimize bleeding.
- Do not rinse your mouth 24 hours after surgery.
- You will need to consume soft food and drinks for the first couple of days and avoid hot beverages as much as possible.
Note, implant surgery is lengthy procedures so please do not drive yourself home after your appointment.
Long-term maintenance of your dental implant
How to take care of your implants in the long term?
Brushing is essential in keeping your mouth in an optimum state. You need to brush at least twice daily, and you need to use a soft-bristled toothbrush around your implants with gentle strokes. Flossing is as important as it cleans between teeth, so ensure no food gets trapped between teeth. Some people have trouble flossing, using either interdental brushes or water flossing are great alternatives.
Brushing and flossing will make sure that no bacteria will accumulate around the implants, otherwise, the surrounding gums, which support the implant, will get irritated and inflamed.
There is a clear association between smoking and gum disease. Smoking reduces the amount of saliva being produced, which aids in the washing effect, at the same time; nicotine constricts blood vessels that reduce the blood flow to the mouth tissue thus decreasing the ability of the oral tissue to fight off bacteria. Giving up smoking will not only help in preserving your dental implant for the longest period but will also help in having good oral health overall.
Certain medical conditions can affect the longevity of the implants, such as uncontrolled diabetes; where the oral supporting structure, called periodontal ligaments, become too weak to hold the implant in place. In such cases, the dentist will refer you to your general practitioners to help you manage your condition. Another example is people who underwent chemotherapy to treat head and neck cancer, which directly weakens oral tissue, thus, unfortunately, making them at a higher risk for implant failure.
Although dental implants are very strong and resilient as they are made from titanium, they are still prone to breakage, so you should only use them to chew food. Many people have destructive oral habits, such as nail biting and pen or pencil biting; these small repetitive movements will cause damage to the dental implant over time. Also, some people will have the habit of opening up bottles with their teeth; this will put tremendous force on the prostatic attachment that may break it on the spot.
Although implants are known to be hard, they are fragile and liable to fracture, so your dentist will advise you to avoid hard-to-chew food such as ice, nuts, apples and carrots, as much as possible. If you must, then it is recommended that you try to chew them on your natural teeth or you cut them into small pieces first.
this is a force applied directly to the implant; this usually happens in sports injuries. A force can weaken the bone holding the implant leading it to become loose. We highly advise you to wear mouth protectors while playing sports, which are rubber-made devices, constructed to fit over the top front teeth.
you need to visit your dentist at least twice a year, for checkups and cleaning to maintain your implants. In some cases, your dentist may require more frequent visits if they notice problems, as early detection is the key which can prevent the premature loss of the implants.
Choose the right practice
Signing up with an experienced implantologist and a clinic which offer high-quality material can save you so much in the long run. Additionally, some practices offer packages for multiple implants, while others offer insurance and long-life maintenance, thus we recommend that you take your time to choose which dental practice you want to go with.
The bottom line
Having dental implants to replace your missing teeth can be life-changing, but they are not a fit-and-forget kind of treatment, thus following these fairly easy and straightforward steps will ensure your dental implants last you a lifetime.