Dental Implant Maintenance Tips

If you've recently been recommended for, or fitted with, a dental implant, you should know that good oral hygiene will be more important than ever. Natural teeth contain interior blood vessels and an anchoring ligament, which provide the tooth itself and the surrounding region with nutrition and disease-combating white blood cells. As implants lack these organic structures, they are somewhat more vulnerable to disease and infection.

Regular, careful maintenance is critical not only to the long-term success of your implants, but also to the overall health of your mouth (any infections could place your gums, jaw, and other teeth at risk, too). The following tips will help ensure that your new smile stays beautiful for many years to come:

Brush and floss daily

Hopefully this won't be a brand-new habit, but keeping plaque off the surface of your implant (and out of the surrounding gum tissue) will go a long way toward preventing bacterial infections. Your dentist should go over proper brushing and flossing techniques with you, which may differ slightly from your usual regiment depending on the type of implant received. He or she may also recommend the use of an "interproximal brush" (or "proxy brush"), a thin and flexible tool that is used to reach the narrow spaces between teeth/implants and the gums.

Irrigate hard-to-reach areas

Oral irrigators are helpful in flushing out plaque and debris from the small gaps between implants and gums. Your dentist may recommend an irrigation tool that uses water or a microbial rinse, both of which are useful in fighting off periodontal disease (also referred to as "gingivitis"). Note that some rinses contain alcohol, which may cause dryness in the mouth. If you are susceptible to dry mouth issues, or are in the early stages of recovery, you may wish to consider a non-alcoholic rinse alternative (fortunately, these are often readily available).

Continue to have regular checkups

While hygiene at home is very important, it's not a replacement for in-office appointments. Because dental implants are so closely integrated with bone and gum tissue, it can be extremely difficult to provide the advanced levels of cleaning that they necessitate without outside help. Dental hygienists have access to specialized instruments that will scrape biofilm from the surface of your teeth and implants without scratching them. Office appointments also provide an opportunity to check for the early signs of infection, and catch any problems before they become serious.