How to Effectively Care for Dental Implants

cosmetic dental implantsPost contributed by the cosmetic dentist office of Dr. Robert D’Alfonso, a general and cosmetic clinic serving the cosmetic needs of the greater Austin, TX area. In addition to cosmetic, general, and sedative dentistry, their clinic also provides patients with massage therapy before, during and after dental procedures(!).

Getting dental implants is exciting. Implants mean that you can eat what you want without fear, and your mouth once again looks and feels natural. Implants are a investment, so it’s important to know how to care for them. Just as you care for your natural teeth, you should brush and floss your implants every day and maintain regular dental cleanings and appointments. Even though implants cannot get cavities, they are still subject to the same wear as your natural teeth. Though implant home-care is similar to caring for your natural teeth, there are things you can do to improve their longevity.

Care of your Implants After the Procedure

Implants heal quickly if you follow all the precautions that your dentist instructs you to incorporate into your routine.

  • Maintain a diet of soft foods for the first few days after your procedure and only drink clear liquids.
  • To prevent infections, take all the antibiotics that you are prescribed.
  • Use prescription medication as-needed for pain management.
  • Avoid the surgical area when brushing teeth, and use an extra-soft toothbrush. If you use an electric or sonic toothbrush, use a manual toothbrush for one to two weeks after your procedure.
  • Rinse with saltwater or non-alcohol mouth rinses as directed by your dentist.
  • Floss between your teeth once a day, but avoid the site of our new implant.

What will help your implants last for a lifetime and stay infection-free?

Implants look and feel like natural teeth but certain changes in your oral hygiene can maintain them and keep your mouth healthy.

Toothpastes – Many companies are researching to find low-abrasive formulas that are safe for implants and natural teeth. In one double-blind study, researchers found that brushing twice a day with Colgate Total reduced bleeding next to implant sites and reduced bacteria, which helped to prevent peri-implant disease.

Toothbrushes – Many researchers have undertaken studies to determine what toothbrushes are best to use on implants. Most studies show no real difference between types of toothbrushes, i.e. sonic, electric, or manual. It is more important that a soft brush is used and that the patient brushes twice each day with a low-abrasive toothpaste.

Floss – To protect all of the tissue surrounding an implant, dentists generally recommend that you use unwaxed tape or floss designed for implants. In certain situations, a floss threader or floss with a built-in threader is necessary for proper use. When flossing implants, you should insert floss around both sides of the implant and wrap it in a circle. Then, cross the floss at the front of the tooth and move back and forth in a “shoe shine” movement.

Mouthwash – Your dentist may recommend that you use an antimicrobial mouthwash, particularly in cases where there is inflammation or if the patient has difficult properly reaching certain areas around their implants. This will help decrease bacteria.

Oral irrigators – Used one to two times daily, these can greatly help you reduce plaque, inflammation, and clean hard-to-reach areas. You should use one with a non-metal tip. If you are prone to inflammation, you can even use a diluted non-alcohol mouthwash with your oral irrigator.

Stimulators – Healthy and keratinized tissue surrounding an implant is the key to a healthy implant, and stimulators can help. To use one, place the rubber tip flat against the gums, with pressure roll for stimulation. Used correctly, tissue will have a slight lightening in color.

As with all dental procedures and issues, you should consult with your dentist regularly to ensure that you are properly caring for you implants. If you care for them well, your investment can last your entire life.

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