A dental implant is the most natural way to replace a missing tooth, it is placed into the bone and integrates with the bone to become a part of you. It has a clip (abutment) that the tooth (crown, denture or bridge) fits onto. The implant is made of titanium as this material has no ill effect on the human body and bonds really well with our own bone which produces new cells to penetrate into the implant surface. Implants should last a lifetime but as with normal teeth, they require good maintenance and oral hygiene. Implants are often thought of as false teeth but need to be kept free from plaque to prevent peri – implant disease
There are two types of peri- implant disease, there is peri-implant mucositis which means inflammation (reversible redness and swelling) around the gums of the implant tooth. This is caused by plaque and bacteria that build up in the mouth.
If the plaque and bacteria are not removed regularly, this continues to break down the tissues of the supporting structures of the implant and this is called peri-implantitis. This could lead to the implant being at risk of becoming lose.
It is important that you know how to clean and take care of the implant so that any inflammation is kept to a minimum or completely eradicated.
How to brush your dental implants
There are many different designs of implants and are tailor made for each individual patient so it is important that you see the hygienist for guidance on how to clean your new implant structures.
It is usually best to use an electric toothbrush as these can provide much more effective brushing techniques than we can achieve manually. The electric brush should be used on the gum margin (the area where the gum meets the tooth) the same way you do with natural teeth. If you see any bleeding when using an electric brush on the gum area then it is usually best to brush more to alleviate the bleeding. Gums bleed when there is plaque and bacteria present that hasn’t been removed.
There are specialist angled neck toothbrushes that can help to reach difficult areas of the implants, especially on the inside. Your hygienist can discuss these with you.
As with natural teeth there are gaps between the implants and the teeth next door and these are best cleaned with interdental aids (small brushes, floss etc.) your hygienist can demonstrate the best aid to use for your implants.
We recommend that all our implant patients see our hygienist on a regular basis to ensure that the implant and surrounding structures are kept at optimal health to prevent any peri – implant disease. We will also carry out measurements around the implant every twelve months.
The sooner we discover a problem, the easier it is to rectify it. Prevention is always better than cure.