How do you care for your Dental Implant Restoration?
While implants are composed of metal and porcelain they still require proper oral hygiene to last a lifetime. Here are a few tips that will keep your new smile healthy and radiant:
- Regular visit to your dentist for cleanings and checkup. A visit with your dentist and hygienist will ensure that the implant, gum and bone around the implant, and surrounding teeth are healthy. Dental professionals will take a radiograph to examine the health of the bone around the implant. In some cases, particularly with implant retained bridges, your dentist may remove the restoration, to survey the area beneath it, making sure the gums and surrounding teeth are disease free. This also allows the dentist to clean, sanitize and inspect the restoration. If you are visiting a new dentist or hygienist, inform them before you begin any treatment that you have an implant.
- Regular Brushing. Like normal teeth, implants and implant retained prostheses require brushing to remove debris that may form around or under the prosthesis. Depending on the prosthesis, your dentist may provide you with a special brush, that enables you to reach the area or brush beneath the prosthesis more effectively. Many dentists do not recommend using vibrating toothbrushes on implants, as they may cause the screws and components of the implants to loosen over time.
- Interproximal cleaning. Unlike teeth, which have strong periodontal ligaments attaching them to the bone, implants have what is called a peri-implant seal that acts to securely hold the implant to the surrounding bone. The peri-implant seal is not innervated by nerves and may be fragile. Flossing too deeply or aggressively around the implant may break the seal and loosen the implant. And, because it is not innervated by nerves, you will not feel the damage you may be causing. Also, note that instruments such as a proxy brushes or sulca brushes may cause similar damage.Your dentist will review specific care instructions for cleaning directly around the implant. Special floss and flossing techniques have been developed to clean around single implants. In some cases, you dentist may recommend a water irrigation device, like a Waterpik to help clean around the implant without damaging the peri-implant seal.
- Drinking hot beverages – If you can’t touch it, don’t drink it. Take caution when drinking hot beverages. Implants are made of metal, which can retain and conduct heat. If a beverage (or food) is hot enough, the implant will conduct heat to the surrounding cells and may burn them. While drinking one hot beverage likely won’t affect the implants prognosis, repeated damage to the cells around the implant may cause the implant to fail.
- Occlusal Guard/Night Guard. Depending on your implant restoration, your dentist may prescribe a night guard. The night guard is important to keep your biting forces balanced. Excessive force on the implant from biting can lead to loosening of the screws holding the implant to the restoration, and other more serious complications. If prescribed a night guard, patients must adhere to dentists’ wear instructions in order to
Note that these tips are for oral hygiene once the implant has healed and is functioning. Your dentist or oral surgeon will provide immediate post-operative care instructions to follow until your implant is securely fused with the bone.