- March 1, 2016
If you’ve been fortunate enough to have your missing teeth replaced with dental implants you’re probably back to eating your favorite foods and living life without even a fraction of the difficulty you were before. We’re thrilled that our Shorewood office can be a part of so many great success stories, but healing from implant surgery doesn’t mean you can stop caring for your implants!
Dental implants are the closest thing we have to replacing teeth, but there are still a few concerns when it comes to caring for them. It’s easy to keep your dental implants safe and healthy, but you still need to know exactly what can go wrong so you know how to stop it.
Implants And Teeth: Similar, Yet Very Different
Having dental implants is a unique experience. They look, feel, and behave just like natural teeth, leading many people to forget they’re there. That kind of invisibility is exactly what we want to create with implants, but while they feel real there is a lot of difference in how they partner with your body.
Let’s start by talking about how natural teeth attach to your jaw. There’s never any tooth-to-bone contact made with a natural tooth – your jaw is separated from teeth by a fibrous tissue called the periodontal ligament. It’s basically a bunch of really tough fibers that connect to your teeth to their sockets, holding them firmly in place. The ligament continues up the side of your teeth almost to the top of your gumline.
The periodontal ligament is tough, and is a major defense against gum disease and tooth loss. Implants, however, lack the periodontal ligament and are bound directly to the bone of your jaw.
Dental implants are made from titanium, which is incredibly good at integrating with bone to form a permanent, long-lasting connection. This is great for holding your implant in place, but there’s still quite a bit of the implant that relies on gum tissue to support it. Titanium, implant abutments, and crowns can’t form a connection with the periodontal ligament, so your gum tissue takes over instead.
Gum tissue can form a connection with your implant, but it’s more like a simple suction cup than the strength of periodontal fibers. A looser connection makes it easier for oral bacteria to get below your gumline, a condition that can spell death for a dental implant.
Oral Bacteria: Always The Problem
When oral bacteria infects the space between gums and a natural tooth we call it gum disease. It can happen to implants too, but there are different health concerns, so we give it a different name: peri-implant disease.
It’s just as dangerous as gum disease and can even move faster. Without proper care your implant could start to loosen as bacteria eats away at the bone, eventually leading to necessary extraction or just loss on its own. If that happens you’re in a bad position: there might not be enough bone left to support another implant!
Preventing Peri-Implant Disease
If all this talk of disease, bacteria, and infection has you worried, don’t be! It might sound dire but peri-implant disease can be prevented, managed, and reversed with proper care. Whatever you do for natural teeth has to be done the same way, just with a bit more diligence!
- Make sure you’re brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time! Getting down around the gumline is super important, so hold your brush at a 45 degree angle to your gumline to ensure you’re giving it a good scrub.
- Flossing daily is essential, especially if you have implants. By getting into the space between your teeth and down into the gumline you can extract bacteria and food particles. Proper flossing can even eliminate early signs of peri-implant disease.
- Regular appointments at Shorewood Family Dental Care are essential! You might not have a single natural tooth left in your mouth but we still need to take a look at those implants. With regular care we can detect, treat, and prevent peri-implant disease so you can keep that smile for life.
Keep Your Investment Safe With Good Proactive Care
Your dental implants aren’t just your smile: they’re an investment in your future. Don’t let them be destroyed by bacteria when caring for them is so simple!
If you have questions about caring for your dental implants we’re always here to help. Call our Shorewood office today at 815-768-1615 so we can get you the answers you need!