Clean and Maintain Dental Implants
Cleaning dental implant-supported tooth replacements is just as important as cleaning natural teeth, as both depend on healthy surrounding tissues for proper support. Plaque collects on implant crowns just as it does on natural teeth and must be removed on a daily basis at home. Without the plaque removal, infection will develop, and inflammation will take place around the implant, which can result in loss of the sensitive connecting tissue fibers holding the gums against the implant surface. Unlike inflammation around natural teeth, this reaction can be quite catastrophic, quickly leading to a loss of bone around an affected implant. Bone loss can rapidly progress to loss of the dental implant.
Comparing Dental Implants with Natural Teeth
Cleaning around dental implants differs from maintenance of natural teeth for two reasons: The first is that each attach to surrounding bone and gums in a quite different way; secondly, the materials from which implants are made are quite different from natural teeth.
Natural teeth, with natural roots, attach to the bony socket with periodontal ligaments. These ligaments are nonexistent in supporting the implant post. The stability of the implant is the result of osseointegration, which is the bone integrating, fusing, or joining with the implant. A gum disease from plaque buildup does not have the blood supply from those ligaments limiting the ability to resist and fight infection.
Proper at Home Oral Hygiene for Dental Implants
You must continue to exercise good habits at home. These fundamentally are brushing your teeth, natural and implants, twice a day, two minutes each time, with a soft bristle toothbrush. You should also floss at least once a day to get to those hard-to-reach areas between the teeth. These preventative measures at home will keep the buildup of plaque to a manageable minimum which can then be addressed at your professional cleaning every six months.
The Collaborative Professional Cleaning
Your hygienist must select instruments for cleaning that will not damage the crown, abutment, or the implant itself. Maintaining the highly polished, smooth surface of the abutment and crown are critical. If they are scratched, they can attract and harbor bacteria. That is why the scaling instruments used are most often made of plastics and resins. Natural teeth do not scratch in the same way, and therefore metal instruments can be used to clean them.
If any part of the dental implant, the root replacement part, itself is visible, this may mean there is infection that has resulted in gum or bone loss. The implant surface becomes exposed following loss of its fusion to the bone. If calculus or dental cement, used to secure the crowns, is present on an implant surface, the hygienist will need to use special instruments that are effective in removing these contaminants. The clinician must ensure no scratching or damage is caused by completing the task.
Despite these special cleaning challenges, implants are extraordinarily successful. Studies indicate long-term success rates well over 95%. The prevention of any disease is fundamental to the implant health, and function. Maintaining and cleaning dental implants and their related components is an important part of a successful restoration.