When a patient loses a tooth, a dental implant may be recommended by his or her dentist. However, improper care of the implant can result in oral health issues, such as dental decay, gum disease and bone loss. In some cases, implant failure can even occur. If you have a dental implant, here are a few precautions you should take to protect your implant and overall dental health.
Since a dental implant does not include natural tooth material, some people may feel that it is unnecessary to brush the implant as they would a natural tooth. However, the same bacteria and plaque that cause tooth decay and gum disease also build up on a dental implant. As a result, the health of adjacent teeth and that of the gum tissues surrounding the implant can be jeopardized if the dental implant is not cleaned properly and regularly.
A dental implant can be cleaned with the same types of toothbrushes that can be used to clean natural teeth. A brush with soft bristles and a compact head should be sufficient to remove harmful substances from the implant. The compact head is especially important if the implant has replaced a molar since the space in the back of your mouth is more restrictive than it is in other areas of the oral cavity.
If your ability to brush effectively is compromised due to problems with dexterity, consider an electric toothbrush. An electric brush is often able to clean more effectively than a manual brush because the brush generates more cleaning strokes that your hand could in the same period of time.
Floss around the dental implant daily or even more frequently.
Flossing around a dental implant removes plaque that cannot be reached by a toothbrush. This is especially important around a dental implant because the implant tends to be more slender than a natural tooth root. As a result, there may be a bit more space between adjacent teeth and the implant near its exit point from the gums. This allows more room for plaque and food particles to become trapped and promote tooth decay and gum issues.
When flossing around a dental implant, be sure to use floss that does not shred or break easily. Residual pieces of floss left behind in the interdental spaces can lead to greater inflammation of the gums and present more opportunities for tooth decay since the floss that is left behind offers more surface area on which plaque can accumulate.
To learn more about caring for dental implants, schedule an appointment with a dentist in your area.