5 Proper Dental Implant Care and Maintenance Tips
It’s no secret that undergoing certain dental procedures could mean changing your habits. For example, plenty of people with crowns have learned the hard way what can happen when you chew sticky caramel or taffy (and end up replacing a crown that popped off).
However, you may initially think there is little difference in how you behave following a dental implant procedure. Naturally, an implant is not the same as the teeth you were born with, even though it looks the same to the casual observer.
You might assume that once the implant has bonded with bone, you can brush, floss, and rinse the same way as you do with your natural teeth. Dental implants need a different type of care, though. Not only are they a different material from your teeth, but they also interact with bone and gum tissue in your mouth differently.
In short, your dental implants will need some level of specialized care and maintenance if you want to protect your investment and keep your smile looking perfect. Here are a few care and maintenance tips to keep you on track.
1. Avoid Abrasive Toothpaste
You’re going to brush your implants right along with the rest of your teeth. Not only would it be practically impossible to avoid brushing them, but also they do need to be cleaned regularly. Just like your natural teeth, they are susceptible to biofilm that can lead to plaque and tartar buildup.
In fact, it’s even more important to keep your dental implants clean and limit the presence of plaque and tartar. Due to the way implants are seated in your bone and gums, it’s a lot easier for infection to develop, causing tissue to draw away from the implant and result in implant loss. This process can escalate quickly, so you need to remain diligent in your daily care.
That said, choosing the right products is important. Abrasive toothpastes that contain grainy substances like baking soda, for example, may be great at removing surface stains from natural teeth, but they can be extremely damaging to dental implant materials, scratching coated surfaces and wearing down implants.
2. Eliminate Fluoride
Products like toothpaste or mouthwash with a high concentration of fluoride can strip away the protective oxide layer on implants, exposing them to corrosion. This does not bode well for your ability to protect and maintain your implants.
3. Use a Soft-bristled Toothbrush
It’s best to use a soft-bristled toothbrush on implants for the same reason you should avoid abrasive toothpastes – you don’t want to scratch and damage implants. In addition, you need to treat sensitive gum tissue with care in order to preserve the seal around implants and prevent infection from setting in.
You may want to speak with your dentist about which types of toothbrushes are best overall. However, as long as the bristles are soft, it’s likely that you can go with your personal preference between manual, electric, or sonic toothbrushes.
4. Floss and Rinse
Daily flossing, preferably with non-waxed floss, is a must if you want to clean tooth and implant surfaces below the gum line. Rinsing with mouthwash to support the gum health is also recommended to keep your whole mouth healthy.
You might also consider killing two birds with one stone by using a water flosser or oral irrigator. Before you start, however, you should talk with your dentist to make sure your products of choice are safe and recommended for use with implants.
5. Regular Dental Visits
This is a no brainer. Implants can seem like a miracle solution when you lose a tooth for some reason, but they definitely require specialized care, cleaning, and maintenance in order to ensure longevity. The care they require is fairly simple once you’re shown how by the dentist or hygienist, and they can last a lifetime.