Dental implants are one of the most successful ways to replace a missing tooth, with some studies finding success rates as high as 97%. Despite how strong they are, implants still require regular dental exams and cleanings to be maintained. Due to COVID-19, dental offices currently aren’t open for preventive visits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take action at home. Use these simple tips to carry out good dental implant care on a daily basis.
#1 – Brush After Each Meal
Your dental implants rely on the gum tissue and bone surrounding them to keep them in place. The bacteria in your mouth can cause these tissues to become inflamed, leading to the breakdown of the bone and the implant becoming loose. By brushing after each meal, you’re preventing the bacteria from reaching dangerous levels in your mouth.
In addition to brushing frequently, you should also consider making the following changes to your dental routine:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent damaging the gum tissue around your implant
- Avoid toothpastes with harsh whitening ingredients
- Spend more time focused on brushing around and underneath your implant
#2 – Use an Oral Irrigator
Despite our best efforts, a toothbrush isn’t always able to reach every spot in our mouths. The tiny, hard to reach crevices between our teeth are the perfect places for bacteria to accumulate and damage the gum tissue. That’s why an oral irrigator is ideal for patients with dental implants. The device releases a small, but powerful stream of water than can remove plaque in spaces that toothbrush bristles can’t reach.
#3 – Wear a Nightguard
If you grind or clench your teeth at night, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your dental implant. The forces generated by these actions can cause the internal components of the implant to come loose or fracture. Wearing a nightguard reduces the amount of force applied directly to it.
Because dental offices are currently closed to non-emergency visits, you’ll need to wait to have a custom nightguard made. In the meantime, there are things you can try at home to reduce the frequency of clenching and grinding. These behaviors are often caused by stress, so it’s important to find ways to manage it. Set limits to the amount of work you accept, and when you’re feeling overwhelmed, try taking a brief walk or talking to someone about the problems that are making you feel that way.
#4 – Avoid Smoking and Other Dangerous Behaviors
Smoking is one of the most dangerous things to do while having a dental implant. In fact, one study found the implant failure rate for smokers to be as high as 20%. Smoking not only burns healthy gum tissue, but it also reduces blood flow to the tissues in your mouth, making it harder for your body to fight off infections that might occur around your implant.
Chewing ice is another behavior you should try and avoid. Not only does it put a lot of pressure on your implant, but sharp pieces of ice can actually cut and damage the gum tissue that covers it.
Despite how strong they look and feel, dental implants are not invincible. Following these tips will help keep one safe from unnecessary damage and a part of your smile for years to come.
About the Author
Dr. Thaddeus Michalski has invested hundreds of hours in continuing education to provide the best treatment possible for his dental implant patients. He has trained at the prestigious Misch Implant Institute and achieved Diplomate status in the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. If you want to know more about caring for your dental implant, you can reach him at his website or at 860-563-4544.