Dental implants are made of titanium and porcelain, so they aren't going to decay. They might be mostly invulnerable to damage, but the surrounding gum and bone still needs to be protected. One of the most common issues associated with implants is peri-implantitis. It's an inflammatory disease similar to periodontal diseases. The difference is that infection occurs around an implant instead of around a natural tooth.
If left unchecked, peri-implantisis can lead to significant bone loss and potential implant failure. Unfortunately, it progresses painlessly and is generally quite hard for patients to spot. Prevention is your best option, so make sure you follow these four tips.
1. Commit to Good Oral Hygiene
It's a mistake to think that having implants fitted means bidding farewell to brushing and flossing. Even though the implants themselves cannot decay, they can still collect bacteria and plaque, especially around the gum line, and this can lead to peri-implantisis. Brush twice a day to remove food debris and plaque, then floss to get rid of anything stuck between your teeth.
2. Don't Smoke
If you smoke, you radically increase the risk of your implant failing. In fact, it isn't rare for dentists to recommended that heavy smokers who are unwilling to give up avoid implants completely. The increased probability of developing peri-implantisis is just one reason why. Smoking weakens your body's immune system, so any infections that do occur cannot be fought as effectively. Additionally, smoking increases the amount of tartar on your teeth. This irritates the gums, potentially causing them to recede, and increases the amount of bad bacteria in your mouth.
3. Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Grinding your teeth, which is known medically as bruxism, can place stress on a new implant, causing a tiny amount of movement that lets bacteria invade below the gum line. It also damages the soft tissue of your gums through constant stress. Deep pockets are more likely to develop, providing bacteria an ideal place to thrive and start destroying the underlying bone.
4. Follow Your Dentist's Instructions
Some rules are made to be broken – none of those rules relate to dental implants. When your dentist tells you to do something, follow their instructions to the letter. In the days following your procedure, you need to be very careful to make sure your implant fuses to the bone and heals properly. If you don't follow the provided instructions, you could hinder healing times and allow bacteria to enter the fresh implant site. This will almost certainly lead to an infection.