Dental implants can last years, decades, even a lifetime–if they’re properly cared for. But the good news is that maintenance is easy for dental implants. You can treat them like your natural teeth: just brush, floss, and make regular dental visits. You can also help your dental implants by avoiding some bad habits that can damage implants as well as teeth. Following these simple guidelines will give you the best chance of enjoying your implants for the rest of your life.
This page contains basic reference information on dental implant maintenance. If you have specific concerns about your current dental implant or want detailed information about dental implant treatment planning, please call (912) 234-8282 for an appointment with a Savannah cosmetic dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.
Daily maintenance for your dental implants is easy. Just brush and floss like your natural teeth. Brushing and flossing too hard or too frequently can cause receding gums around dental implants the same way it can cause it around natural teeth. We will talk to you about the proper brushing techniques. Remember to brush twice a day, not after every meal, unless specifically instructed.
Sometimes cleaning around dental bridges can be difficult and we may recommend interdental cleaners as well as a toothbrush and floss. If you have a removable restoration, take it out and clean it as recommended. This may include soaking like dentures. With dental hybrids–restorations that are fixed in your mouth most of the time, but can be removed in our office–you should treat them as if they were fixed. Hybrid restorations don’t need to be removed for home maintenance.
For high risk patients–those with previous gum disease or high risk factors like diabetes–we might recommend mouthwash as well. It may be an over-the-counter brand, something we carry in our office, or a prescription only formula. Don’t use mouthwash unless we clear it–some mouthwashes can be damaging to your gums, and soft tissue maintenance is vital to preserve the function and appearance of your dental implants.
Regular Checkups and Cleanings
As with home maintenance, professional cleanings are similar after you have dental implants. If you have your checkups at another office, make sure the hygienist and dentist know which is your dental implant–they can’t always tell.
Your dentist will examine your dental implant like they examine your other teeth, looking at the gums around the implant and the implant itself. They will put some pressure on the implant to make sure it’s firmly fixed in the jaw. Your dental implant should not move. If you have dental hybrids, we may remove them to examine and clean them. And we can perform any necessary adjustments.
If there are signs of a potential problem, additional imaging may be taken. Your dental implant will show up on the usual x-rays, but your dentist might order special x-rays of the implant. This might include what is known as an apical x-ray–one that focuses just on the implant, a panoramic x-ray, or even a CT scan, which can show the state of the bone around the implant.
Depending on what the scans show, your dentist may recommend a change in your oral hygiene or follow-up procedures.
Avoid Habits That Can Damage Your Implant
There are some habits that can be very damaging to your dental implant. Among the most serious is smoking and other tobacco use. Tobacco use impairs your bone healing and can increase your risk of gum disease. Quitting smoking will help maintain your implant for a lifetime.
You should also avoid using your teeth as tools. Don’t use your teeth to tear packages, open bottles, crack nuts, or break ice. All of these are hard on teeth and they’re hard on implants, too.
Don’t chew on nonfood objects. If you have a nervous habit that causes you to chew on pen lids, bite your fingernails, or put other objects in your mouth, try to get it under control.