Getting dental implants is an exciting step! Your smile will look healthy and beautiful, and you can feel confident about sharing your smile with others again.
Now that you’ve gone through the implant process, including months of healing, it makes sense to protect your investment. Dental implants can last a lifetime, but you have to do your part and care for them properly.
Why Dental Implants Fail
According to the Academy of Implant Dentistry, dental implants have a 95% success rate, which is very impressive! However, improper care of the implants or your oral health can lead to failure. Before we explain proper care, let’s take a look at why they might fail.
Peri-implantitis is an infection that develops around a dental implant. It most commonly occurs after recovery due to poor oral hygiene or smoking and tobacco use.
When you don’t brush twice a day and floss once, plaque builds up on your teeth and around your gums. As the bacteria in plaque builds up, it penetrates gum tissue down to the implant post, gradually destroying the bone that holds it in place. Without a sturdy foundation, the implant becomes loose and may eventually fall out.
Following the steps below is a win-win because they benefit your general oral health and your dental implants.
Master the Right Brushing Method
Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing isn’t just beneficial for your dental implant; it also helps prevent cavities and gum disease, which in turn supports long-term oral health.
Many people have been brushing the same way for years, but it might not be the right way. Here are some helpful tips to make sure you’re getting the most benefit out of your effort:
Instead of dragging your brush across all your teeth, hold your brush at a 45-degree angle, starting at the gumline. Move it back and forth across each tooth, making sure your brush gets into all the surfaces to remove plaque and food particles.
Don’t Forget to Floss!
There’s flossing and then there’s flossing around dental implants. It’s crucial to ask your dentist and hygienist to show you the correct way to floss your teeth and around your implant. They can also recommend the different types of floss available and which is suitable for your situation.
There are all sorts of flosses on the market to choose from, including waxed, unwaxed, super floss, and dental tape. Your hygienist may even have some of these products available for you to try.
Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
Smoking is proven to slow down the healing process and make you more prone to gum infections. Since your implants take months to heal, it’s especially detrimental to smoke during this time.
Alcohol is also harmful to your oral health and also slows down the healing process.
Both cause dry mouth that puts you at increased risk for gum disease.
Don’t Eat Hard or Crunchy Foods
Eating hard, crunchy, or sticky foods can damage your implants and any other dental work in your mouth.
Here’s a short list of foods that can damage your dental implant:
- Hard candies
- Gummy candy
- Dried fruit
- Crusty bread
Also, chewing ice is particularly harmful because it damages your teeth and dental work like porcelain veneers.
Schedule Routine Dental Exams and Cleanings
Scheduling dental exams and teeth cleanings every six months (or as recommended by your dentist) is crucial if you want to maintain your implants and your oral health. During these appointments, your dentist will look for signs of cavities and gum disease and check the condition of your implants. A thorough teeth cleaning with your dental hygienist ensures that your teeth and gums are free of the bacteria-filled plaque that can harm your implant.