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Simple Tips on How to Maintain Healthy Dental Implants

Once you have made the decision to have dental implants, you will want to know how best to care for them. Opting to have dental implants is generally not a quick or inexpensive choice. Ensuring they remain strong and healthy will allow you to continue enjoying them for many years or hopefully even for your lifetime. Your dental implant dentist will have explained the importance of proper oral hygiene and it is vital to take this advice very seriously.

One common misconception is that dental implants are inert and cannot become infected, but they are surrounded by living tissue that needs to remain healthy. Looking after dental implants is quite similar to looking after your natural teeth.
The dental implant is attached to the surrounding bone slightly differently. Implant supported teeth are made from materials that although extremely effective, cannot be compared to your natural teeth.

Explaining Dental Implants
Dental implants are designed to artificially replace a tooth root, allowing a new crown, bridge or even a removable denture to be attached to the implant. The actual implant post is made of medical grade titanium alloy. Titanium is chosen because it is a 'bone-loving' metal that is extremely biocompatible and able to literally fuse with your natural bone.

Just above the implant post is an abutment which may be an integral part of the implant post or attached to a separate connector. The abutment is surrounded by living tissues comprised of collagen and which help to hold your gum tissue securely around the surface of the implant. The final part of a dental implant is the crown.

Multiple dental implants can be used to support a bridge or a removable denture, depending on the treatment recommended by your implant dentist.

How Dental Implants Differ from Natural Teeth
With a natural tooth root, it's not actually fused into your jawbone but instead is attached to the bony socket surrounding it by tiny fibers called a periodontal ligament. The periodontal ligament has a blood vessel supply and can bring cells and nutrients to the tissues around the tooth root, helping to fight infection and inflammation. In contrast, a dental implant doesn't have this type of attachment.

It is simply inert, although the implant post is specially treated to encourage bone cells to grow on the post and around it.

Why It's Vital to Clean around Your Dental Implants
It's just as important to thoroughly clean around your dental implants as it is when cleaning your natural teeth. Both your dental implants and your natural teeth depend on the tissues surrounding them for support. Each day, a bacterial biofilm called plaque will develop over the surfaces of natural teeth. It also forms over the surfaces of implant-supported restorations such as crowns and bridges.

This biofilm must be thoroughly removed. Otherwise, it could cause an infection around your dental implants that is very similar to gum disease and which is called peri-implantitis. When the tissues around natural teeth become infected it gradually destroys gum tissue and periodontal ligaments. When the tissues around dental implants become infected, it can lead to substantial loss of bone which in turn can lead to the loss of the dental implant.

This is why good oral hygiene is so important. Often the signs of peri-implantitis will not be detected until the infection is quite significant, by which time it may not be possible to save the dental implants.

Looking after Your Dental Implants at Home
After your dental implants have been inserted and treatment completed, your dental implant dentist or your hygienist will explain how to care for them at home. When caring for single dental implants, it's usually quite straightforward to look after them properly. You can simply brush and floss around them in the same way as your natural teeth. It is best to pay extra attention when cleaning them to make sure you remove all the plaque biofilm.

When cleaning around implant-supported bridges, it's important to clean right under the replacement teeth of the dental bridge and around the actual implants. To do this, you may need to use different tools such as soft interdental picks or brushes, or floss threaders, just to make sure you get them thoroughly clean. Implant-supported dentures should be removed and the dentures properly cleaned.

You should clean around each individual dental implant in your mouth. Having a removable appliance does make it easier to keep your dental implants thoroughly clean. This is one of the advantages of having an implant-supported denture rather than an implant-supported bridge that isn't removable. If your dentures are supported by a bar, then you will need to clean right around the bar and around the dental implants.

Then follow the instructions given to you by your dental hygienist.

Why Regular Hygiene Appointments Are Vital
You must visit your hygienist as regularly as recommended by your implant dentist to have your dental implants professionally cleaned. Your hygienist can use special tools and instruments to thoroughly clean around the abutments and implants, and implant crowns and bridges. This treatment is important for maintaining the highly polished surface of the abutment and crown. This makes it harder for plaque to adhere to the smooth surface.

During this appointment, they will also check the condition of your implants to ensure the bone and gum surrounding the dental implants is strong and healthy. They also check that there isn't any bone loss. Professionally cleaning around implant-supported restorations is more challenging for a hygienist. This is because it's so important to keep the implants clean and disinfected.

Generally, dental implant treatment is extremely successful. Implant dentists carefully evaluate a patient's suitability for this treatment and will ensure they know all the potential risks and how to manage them. The success rate of dental implant treatment is normally 95% or even higher. Some of this success does rely on the skill of your implant dentist.

Dental implants must be optimally placed to ensure they have good aesthetics and function. This is while making it relatively straightforward to maintain an optimal level of hygiene. If you do notice any potential problems developing with your dental implant contact your dentist. For example pain or discomfort when biting down, or swelling around the implant, it's worth contacting your implant dentist as soon as possible.
The sooner any infection can be treated, the more likely the implant can be saved.

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