Many people are opting for dental implants these days because dental implants fit, feel and function like natural teeth. A dental implant is a small, strong, titanium post that acts the same as a man-made tooth root. The implant is gently placed into the upper or lower jawbone. The entire process is accomplished with a local anesthetic (Novacaine). There is no pain because there are no nerves in jaw bone. Once the bone has fused with the surface of the implant, a process that takes less than three months, implants can support crowns, bridges and dentures, the same way roots hold teeth in place. Implants are very durable, and if taken care of properly they can last a lifetime.
What do you need to do to take care of your dental implants? You should treat them the same way you would take care of your natural teeth – with good oral hygiene! Practicing good oral hygiene will ensure the long-term success of your implants. If plaque is not regularly and effectively removed from the surfaces of the implants, periodontal disease (gum disease) will most likely occur. If gum disease goes untreated bone loss will result which can lead to the loss of the implants.
Regular dental visits are essential in maintaining the integrity of your dental implants, as well as brushing and flossing regularly. You should schedule regular check-ups each year to ensure the health of your gums, teeth, and implants. In between dental visits you should be practicing daily oral hygiene to maintain your implants which consists of the following:
• Brushing your teeth and implants at the gum line is an effective way to make sure that plaque is effectively removed.
• Flossing must be done properly to remove plaque and debris between teeth where brushing can’t reach. This is equally true of dental implants.
• Oral irrigation, which is an instrument that emits a pulsating jet of water, is an effective way to reduce the accumulation of plaque around dental implants and natural teeth. Antibacterial agents added to the tap water placed in an irrigation device will enhance your ability to kill disease causing bacteria.
• Use of interproximal brushes, also called “proxy brushes,” are designed to clean between teeth and implants. Interproximal brushes are effective in cleaning hard to reach areas.
• Use implant-friendly toothpaste. Toothpaste containing fluoride is safe to use on dental implant restoration. However, stay away from toothpastes containing abrasives such as baking soda and stain removers. Abrasive toothpastes can produce wear on acrylic and remove the glaze on porcelain.
By choosing to get dental implants, you have made a great investment in yourself. Being consistent with your oral hygiene practices will ensure your implants last a lifetime.