You needed a dental implant, and after seeking treatment here in Chicago, now you’ve got one. You went through the tooth implant procedure, paid however much of the tooth implant cost your insurance didn’t cover, and now you have your tooth replacement.
With all the bother and expense over, you can feel good about one thing: your dental implant should be permanent. Unlike a natural tooth, the tooth implant is made out of dental materials and metal. It’s not vulnerable to decay-producing bacteria, and that means it will last forever. Right?
Unfortunately, not necessarily. The dental implant itself may be impervious to disease, but the bone and other natural parts of the mouth that it depends on for support are not. That means periodontal (gum) disease can cause the tooth implant to fail.
Your Dental Implant and Peri-implantitis
Peri-implantitis is a form of gum disease that threatens a dental implant. It’s basically a destructive inflammatory process that attacks both the soft and hard tissue around the tooth implant. Like other forms of periodontal disease, it arises from plaque.
Plaque is a film of food particles and bacteria that, if not controlled by regular brushing and flossing, builds up on the teeth and hardens into tartar that can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning. The presence of this material causes inflammation and infection in the gums, including the gum tissue supporting the dental implant.
If the condition remains untreated (by a better oral hygiene regiment on the part of the patient and intervention by a dentist), infection can easily spread below the gum line. There, it can attack gum tissue and bone, weakening the section where the dental implant is embedded. In time, the tooth implant becomes loose and then falls out.
Protecting Your Dental Implant by Avoiding Peri-implantitis
Naturally, you’d much prefer not to have to deal with even the possibility of gum disease making your dental implant fall out. As alluded to above, a proper oral hygiene regimen coupled with regular visits to the dentist is the best way to accomplish this.
A proper dental hygiene regimen consists of brushing and flossing twice daily. It’s best to do this about an hour after eating because eating increases the acidity in your mouth, acidity weakens tooth enamel, and attending to your oral care while the enamel’s weak came damage it. Happily, after half an hour to an hour, your saliva reduces the acidity back to its normal level.
A multi-tufted toothbrush with soft bristles works best for the average person. Even with a soft-bristled brush, you still shouldn’t brush too hard, or you could damage your gums and cause them to recede, thus exposing the roots, which would then become more susceptible to disease. A gentle, scrubbing motion is best, and a person should be sure to brush the entire tooth surface from the gum line to the top. Use a fluoride toothpaste because fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay and even reversing early tooth decay in some instances.
When you brush, floss, and if you find flossing difficult for any reason, discuss the problem with a member of your dental treatment team. The dental pro may have tips that will help, and if not, special tools may do the trick. Floss threaders make it easier to work floss between teeth, and handheld water flossers eliminate the need for thread-like floss altogether by substituting a jet of pressurized water.
Be sure to visit your Chicago dentist’s office regularly, twice a year or more if indicated. A professional cleaning will get rid of any plaque and tartar your brushing and flossing couldn’t, and the dental health team can catch any problems, including ones that pertain to your dental implant and the development of Peri-implantitis.
Protecting Your Dental Implant by Fighting Peri-implantitis
If you do develop Peri-implantitis, though, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost and it’s time to bid your dental implant goodbye. Your dentist can treat the condition.
A completely successful intervention, one that saves the tooth implant, is more likely if treatment begins early, before the bone supporting the dental implant is compromised. So be alert for signs of trouble in your mouth. Watch out for swollen, red, or bleeding gums and anything else that seems to have changed for the worse. If you think there’s a problem with your mouth, you’re very likely right.
Treatment is likely to involve plaque removal as well as antibiotics to eliminate disease-causing bacteria. If the disease is far enough advanced, the dentist may also need to perform surgery to strengthen the connection between the dental implant and the bone underneath.
But as stated above, the best way to handle Peri-implantitis is by taking the necessary steps to reduce the possibility that you’ll ever get it in the first place.