Tips on Proper Care of Dental Implants
Proper care of dental implants begins prior to surgery. Good oral health is a necessity for the implant to be successful. The gums should be bright pink and firm, with no inflammation or redness. Thorough brushing and flossing along with regular semi-annual checkups should be performed to achieve optimal oral health.
Post-Surgery: Care during Healing
The implant procedure takes place in 3 stages: placing the implant, attaching the post, and placing the crown. It is during the first part of this procedure that special care is needed.
For the dental implant surgery, the gum tissue is opened to access the jaw bone. A hole is drilled into the bone where the implant is placed. Stiches are then used to close the incision in the gum. The sutures will be removed in 7-14 days, and it will take 3-6 months for the site to heal completely.
Immediately following the surgery, the area will be mildly sore and swollen. The patient should eat only soft foods and drink clear liquids for the first few days post-surgery. Saltwater rinses are recommended twice daily to ward off infection. Even if the area appears to be healing quickly and there are no obvious complications, the patient should be sure to finish the entire course of antibiotics as infection is the primary reason for implant failure. Also in that first week after surgery, the patient should brush the surrounding teeth with an extra soft toothbrush but should avoid the surgical area.
Post-Surgery: Long-Term Care
Once the post and crown have been attached, the implant will function as a normal tooth, but there are some special considerations to take into account. Not all toothpastes are appropriate for an implant. Aim for a low abrasive toothpaste, and avoid toothpastes that contain sodium fluoride, baking soda, or stain removers as they can scratch any exposed surface of the implant.
Floss the implant as you would a regular tooth, but use an unwaxed or implant-specific floss. In the case of multiple tooth implants, a threader may be necessary. Water flossers are also recommended as is an antimicrobial mouthwash to fend of bacteria and plaque buildup, particularly when the implant is an area that is hard to reach.
Scheduling regular dental checkups is important so your dentist can monitor the implant and the health of the surrounding gum tissue. Also, pay attention to the implant site. Perform regular visual inspections. Should you notice any redness or swelling or feel any irritation, call your dentist to schedule an appointment. If an infection arises, the sooner it is addressed, the less chance it has of escalating.
Dental implants are a safe, permanent way to replace missing teeth. To ensure your implants last a lifetime, be sure to practice diligent oral hygiene, do routine visual inspections of the implant site, and only use products approved for dental implants.