Now that you’ve got dental implants, it’s time to take care of them. Just as with natural teeth, infection is the enemy, and failure to properly care for your implants could mean costly repair or complications such as bone loss, which is irrevocable.
Though much of your routine will remain the same, brushing and flossing twice a day, implant care differs if a few ways. Implants attach to the surrounding bone and gum differently than natural teeth, and the success of the whole system is based on this attachment. Inflammation caused by infection can weaken this connection, sometimes causing a catastrophic failure.
Another difference has to do with the implant’s materials, which may be susceptible to certain oral hygiene products. It’s the tradeoff for being immune to decay.
Both of these differences mean that having the right tools is key to maintaining both your implants and your natural teeth. Here are five things to consider when stocking your medicine cabinet.
With implants, not all toothpaste is created equal. Stay away from abrasive toothpastes that “whiten” or “brighten,” as these could scratch implant surfaces such as exposed threads. (In truth, these can scratch your natural teeth, too.)
You’ll also want to avoid toothpate with stannous fluoride, sodium fluoride, or other “stain removers” such as smoker’s toothpaste. Implants have an oxide layer which make the titanium surface anti-corrosive, but products containing some of these components have been known to damage or completely remove the oxide layer.
In caring for dental implants, studies have shown that there is no significant difference between sonic, electric, or manual toothbrushes. More important is technique and dexterity. Implants should be brushed twice daily to remove plaque, paying special attention to the area under and around the gum. For this, a soft toothbrush is best.
If you have difficulty controlling a manual toothbrush, powered brushes can help you clean better, and if they have pressure sensors, they can help you avoid pushing too hard against the implant and gums.
Unwaxed tape is always recommended for floss, however, much like with toothbrushes, technique is more important. The best way to floss an implant is by inserting the floss contacts on both side of the implant, wrapping it in a crisscross pattern, and maneuvering the floss in a shoe-shine motion.
By repeating this twice a day, you are caring for the most vulnerable part of your implants, and fighting against infection.
Oral Irrigators / Water Flossers
Oral irrigators or “water flossers” use a stream of pulsating water to remove plaque. Because of their effectiveness in cleaning below the gum line, the trouble spot for most implants, it is highly recommended. Studies have shown that water flossers can be up to 50% more effective than traditional floss in reducing gum disease.
Focusing on effective ways to practice at-home oral care is incredibly important not only for your implants, but for your natural teeth as well. Using these tools and methods can help prevent plaque buildup, cavities, and periodontal disease so that you can keep those natural teeth healthy.
Along with brushing and flossing, scheduling regular checkups and cleanings cannot be overstated. Your dentist can also provide you with additional information, including an action plan for keeping your mouth safe.
If you are considering dental implants or if you have dental implants and want to be proactive about caring for your implants and yourself, we can help. Please call (910) 392-6060 today for an appointment with Wilmington, NC cosmetic dentist Dr. Michael Kuzma at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry, and learn how we can help.