Dental implants are a reliable replacement option if a patient has a tooth extracted. There are many reasons to pull permanent teeth, including infection, irreversible damage, and a crowded mouth. A dentist may recommend an implant if a patient is experiencing difficulties with chewing or speaking, or if the person is self-conscious about smiling. It…
How To Keep Dental Implants Clean
Dental implants are not susceptible to the decay that afflicts natural teeth, but still require adequate cleaning to remove plaque that can stick to them and infect the surrounding tissue. Periodontal disease can destabilize the jawbone, and consequently the implant.
Cleaning single dental implants
Although a dental hygienist can clean the implant's abutment and the crown, the patient must also perform daily maintenance. Signs of improper home care include:
- Red and swollen gums
- Pain when chewing
- Bad breath
- Bad taste in the mouth
Taking a small amount of extra care when cleaning a single dental implant can shield surrounding teeth from bacteria and increase its longevity.
Brushing twice per day is necessary for patients with and without implants. Patients with dental implants must gently brush the crown, using a soft nylon brush to avoid scratching its surface. Oral bacteria can migrate into the jaw through scratches on the crown.
Using mild toothpaste
Unlike natural teeth, implant crowns have an acrylic surface that abrasive substances such as baking soda can wear away. Worn surfaces create access points for bacteria that can infect the jaw and the tissue around the implant. Brushing with a mild toothpaste eliminates this concern.
Water flossers have parts that can direct water flow deep inside the space between the crown and the gums where bacteria accumulate. A pulsating hydraulic force of room temperature water washes away plaque and debris and is gentle enough to apply every day.
Soft interdental brushes can achieve the same level of cleaning that water flossing provides. Standard string floss is inadvisable for use near dental implants because it can shred and enter the gum tissue causing infection. Specially designed floss consisting of shred-resistant stiff ends and a pliable middle can safely clean the area where the crown's edge meets the gumline.
Patients can gently massage the gums with stimulators to send nutrient-rich blood to the implant region. A gum stimulator is also an excellent cleaning device consisting of a long metal or plastic arm supporting a small triangular-shaped rubber or silicone tip that reaches beyond the gumline near the implant crown to scrape away plaque. It can enter the tight space between the crown and other teeth to loosen trapped debris.
Cleaning implants that support bridges and dentures
Whether a patient has a single implant or multiple implants, the cleaning methods are the same, with some variation. Additional tools in a home care arsenal can benefit patients with implant-supported bridges and dentures.
Patients can use small, narrow brushes with soft bristles to clean implant-supported bridges or dentures near the gumline where standard toothbrushes cannot easily reach. Subtle changes in design depend on which part of the mouth is cleaned.
A mouth rinse can penetrate spaces that other home care tools can not reach. Antibacterial rinses can dislodge debris while killing germs that can cause periodontitis.
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