Dental implants are like the artificial substitute for the roots of teeth that helps to hold your prosthetic /artificial teeth to the jaw. They are inserted carefully into your bone by a specialist dentist and after some time, it fuses with your bone to be fixed permanently. During this time and even after it has fused completely to the bone, it needs special care. Let us see how you should care for the implants in your mouth for them to last long. Before going into that, a big question arises:
Why do dental implants need special care?
You may think that all prosthetic teeth and natural teeth need only same kind of care. But it is not so. Natural teeth have supporting structures around its roots, called periodontium, which holds it to the jaw bone. It has ligaments that connects teeth to the supporting bone.
Since implants lack these natural structures, the junction between implant and bone is at a higher risk of infection or destruction by bacteria.
This may lead to a condition called peri-implantitis, i.e., inflammation around the implant. Hence, someone with a dental implant should take extra care in maintaining it to avoid this infection.
What should you do?
You should co-operate to take part in regular follow-up procedures in the clinic and should also properly (and consistently) follow home care methods as instructed by your dentist to ensure that your implant and the surrounding tissues are healthy and will stay longer.
What are the home care tips?
- You might have heard often that you should brush twice a day. But it is even more important if you have implants in your mouth. Brushing at night helps to remove the food debris around the implant, thus preventing bacterial accumulation there and hence avoiding a possible infection.
- Use the toothpaste that your dentist recommends, which does not contain harsh abrasives. Harsh abrasives can cause scratches on your artificial tooth and implants.
- You should use soft-bristled brushes only (take care to select soft bristles with rounded ends), as they are gentle to the implant. If the bristles are dipped in 0.12% chlorhexidine solution before brushing, they are found to be more effective in removing/killing the bacteria.
- If you use a manual toothbrush, follow an effective method called the ‘modified bass technique’ for brushing. It is basically a method where you keep the brush head at 45° angulation to the outer surfaces of 2-3 teeth at a time (at the gum line), and brush in vibrating, back and forth, and rolling motion. After completing it, repeat the same on the inner surface of the back teeth. Then, the inner surface of the upper and lower front teeth should be brushed in a vertical motion (up and down).
- Mechanical toothbrushes are a better option when compared to manual toothbrushes, as they produce more strokes within a small time and hence is more effective in removing debris than a manual toothbrush. Even if you opt to use it, make sure that the bristles are soft.
- Food gets trapped easily in the area between two adjacent teeth. Use interdental brushes to clean the sides of implant-supported teeth.
- One of the common and easy methods to clean the area between two adjacent teeth is dental floss. The floss should be inserted between teeth and moved gently only. For added benefits, use floss dipped in chlorhexidine at night to clean the sides of the exposed part of the implant.
- A better option compared to thread-like dental floss is a water flosser. If possible, substitute floss with a water flossers, since they are more effective than the former due to their high-speed irrigation. Use it after every meal to remove food debris.
- You can use an anti-microbial mouthwash like chlorhexidine gluconate to flush out bacteria from your mouth. But they may cause staining on prolonged use. So you’ll have to use a brush after using the mouthwash.
- Sulcus brush: Another useful device to help you clean the area between the implant and gums is a sulcus brush. It is roughly one-third the width of a regular toothbrush.
How to clean implant-supported dentures?
- If you’re wearing an implant-supported overdenture, make sure to brush your overdentures daily. It will help to eliminate bacteria that has built up inside the dentures. Don’t use toothpaste since it may cause scratches on the surface of the denture, causing a dull finish. You can use a non-abrasive soap such as dish soap or denture cleaners.
- Every night before you go to bed, place your overdentures in a cleaning solution. Next morning, clean them properly with water before placing them inside your mouth.
Your dentist will check for any inflammation around the implant and may take radiographs every 12 to 18 months to ensure that the bone and other parts around the implant is healthy. He/she will also check if your implant needs any repair and will rectify it on time. Your dentist will perform deep cleaning at regular intervals, with plastic tips (natural teeth are cleaned with stainless steel tips mostly). Stainless steel tips are not used as it may cause damage to the implant.
In short, dental implants need regular and consistent care to be successful in the long run. Spend some extra time on your special teeth and preserve them till the end.
If you have any doubts regarding the maintenance of your implant and teeth, our expert team in DentalDost will guide you and will also help you to find suitable products for your implant care. Contact us to get expert advice and products to keep your good smile intact..!
- Dental implants should be maintained with hygiene. If you fail to do so, it may lead to infection or Inflammation.
- Use soft-bristled brushes and interdental cleaning aids to keep your implants and teeth clean.
- Listen to the instructions of your dentist and do regular follow-up procedures.