Dental implants are an increasing popular alternative to bridges or removable dentures and – with the correct aftercare – should last a lifetime. They look and feel like normal teeth and you should be able to eat as you would with normal teeth as they provide the same strength and ‘bite’.
As a financial investment into your oral health you want to do as much as you can to ensure their longevity. Cleaning around your implants, and ensuring that you also receive regular professional care is vital.
Here are four top tips, as advised by specialist Dr Jain of the Sutton Implant Clinic, for looking after your implant:
- Brush your teeth and implant teeth twice a day for a minimum of two minutes, ideally using an electric toothbrush.
- Use floss or satin tape daily, to clean in-between the implant tooth and your natural teeth. It is important to get the floss or tape below the level of the gum so you can clean the collar of the implant. As an alternative to flossing you can use an interdental or ‘bottle’ brush or electronic aid such as the “Air Floss” system by Phillips, or a WaterPik. Ask your hygienist for more information about these systems.
- You should see a hygienist at least every six months for a 30 minute appointment. Depending on how well you can manage your home regime, it may be recommended that you visit the hygienist every three months instead. The hygienist will be able to clean areas you may not be able to get to, and will ensure that plaque is not left around your implant tooth/collar. They will also irrigate an antibacterial solution around the area where your gum joins your implant tooth so it stays healthy and prevents the loss of bone.
- An annual implant assessment with your implant dentist is vital. At this appointment, the dentist will review your cleaning regime, check the health of your implant, and also take an x-ray to ensure the implant is still well connected to the tooth and there has been no bone loss. The early identification and correction of any problems can make a big difference in the overall health, longevity and appearance of your implant.
Alongside regular visits to the hygienist and dentist it is also important that you keep an eye on your implant and look out for any changes in your mouth, such as:
- Bleeding around the gum where the implant site is
- Redness and swelling of the gum surrounding the tooth
- Pus formation
- Movement of your dental implant.
Most of these problems only occur if inadequate care is taken. If you do notice any of these warning signs then you should contact your implant dentist as soon as possible to reduce the risk of any further problems.
Dental implants are a fixed permanent solution but occasionally your implant crown may debond and fall off. If this happens don’t worry, this can be normal and doesn’t mean your implant has failed. A temporary cement is used when fixing an implant so your dentist can get access to the implant with ease if they need to without destroying your new tooth.
Failure to follow these steps and adequately look after the oral health of your implant, both at home and with professional supervision, may ultimately lead to the implant becoming loose and being lost.