Dental implants offer several benefits over other tooth replacement options. Since they are permanently attached to your gums and bone, you don’t have to worry about accidentally misplacing them or swallowing them. They are also more durable and longer lasting than dentures. While your implants won’t decay or develop cavities like natural teeth, it is still important to take good care of them and to maintain them. Plaque and bacteria can collect on the implants and on the gums around them and lead to infection if not taken care of.
Keep Them Clean
Once you’ve gotten dental implants, it’s important that you do what you can to keep them, and the rest of your teeth, clean. Continue to brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, and be sure to floss daily. Since implants are made of a material that can scratch easily, it’s important to use a gentle toothbrush when cleaning them. Your dentist can recommend a specific type of toothbrush to use, but for the most part it’s best to use a brush with soft bristles.
It might be worth the expense and effort to invest in an electric toothbrush to keep your implants and remaining natural teeth clean. Electric toothbrushes can often alert you to when you are using too much pressure or force and can often do a more thorough job of cleaning the teeth than a manual toothbrush.
Along with keeping your implants clean, it’s important to brush and floss around your natural teeth. If the teeth around your implants decay or develop cavities, there is a chance they will damage the implants as well. Teeth that are severely decayed can affect the structure of the implant, causing it to become loose in the mouth.
Protect Your Dental Implants
With good care, dental implants will last for a decade, if not much longer. While implants are durable and strong, they aren’t unbreakable. You want to do what you can to protect your implants from impact and force, just as you would your normal teeth. That means wearing a mouth guard when you play sports or swim, wearing night gear if you regularly grind your teeth at night and avoiding biting down on anything hard that can crack the implant.
It also means no chewing on ice and no crunching on hard candy or very crunchy pretzels or snacks. You should also avoid trying to open anything, from beer bottles to a sealed bag, with your teeth.
Watch Your Diet
Since dental implants are made of porcelain and metal, they don’t decay the way that tooth enamel does. Although your implants won’t develop cavities or decay, that doesn’t give you free reign to eat all the sugary treats you want or to drink all the soda and sweetened juice drinks you wish.
Sugar still affects the durability and quality of your implants. For one thing, eating and drinking a lot of sugar gives the bacteria that live in your mouth plenty of food to feast on. That bacteria is able to grow and spread, increasing your risk for developing gum disease. Along with increasing your risk for gum disease, having high levels of bacteria in your mouth also increases your risk for developing peri-implantitis, an infection around the implant.
See Your Dentist Often
Even people who don’t have dental implants should get in the habit of seeing their dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and examinations. Regular dental appointments become even more critical when you have implants. Without a dentist monitoring, cleaning and otherwise caring for your teeth and implants, it’s all too easy for small problems to spiral out of control. When you see your dentist regularly, he is able to detect and treat any potential issues with the implants or the surrounding teeth before those issues need complicated or costly treatment.
Don’t Delay Emergency Treatment
You might see your dentist often, but that doesn’t eliminate the chance that you’ll face a dental emergency at some point or another. If your implant gets knocked loose, breaks or is otherwise damaged, don’t delay going to see a dentist. Your own regular dentist might offer emergency care. If not, he can point you in the direction of a practice that provides care around the clock, in the event of an emergency.
Treat Other Conditions
Maintaining your overall health is an essential part of maintaining your dental implants. If you have certain conditions, such as diabetes, it’s important that you get that condition under control before your implants are placed. Having high blood sugar can delay the healing process after the surgery, for example.
Tell your dentist about any medical issues you have before implant surgery. He can recommend options for controlling the condition or suggest alternatives to implants that might work better for you at the moment.
Do you need to replace lost teeth or have you recently gotten implants but aren’t sure how to take the best care of them? Dr. John Paul Gallardo, periodontists and dental implant specialists in Miami, Florida, are available to answer any questions you have. To schedule an appointment at their practice, call 305-547-8687 today.