Thursday, October 12, 2017

Cleaning a dental implant

Dental implants should be treated like a regular tooth; the implant needs to be kept clean, free of bacteria, plaque, and food debris.  If the dental prosthesis is not cleaned regularly, infection may develop and result in implant failure.

Dental implants have become a popular treatment choice to restore missing space that may be placed due to fractured tooth that is not restorable, a tooth with repeated failed endodontic therapy, an abscessed tooth that required removal, a tooth lost due to severe periodontal disease, tooth lost due to accidental trauma requiring emergency dentistry, or to replace a space from a congenitally missing tooth.

Once the implant is integrated and the implant abutment and crown are placed, the implant needs to be cleaned daily at home. At home, twice a day brushing is crucial to remove surface bacteria, food debris, and plaque.  Daily flossing is required to remove plaque trapped between the implant and the adjacent tooth or crown.  A water pick is a good supplement to help flush bacteria that may be trapped underneath the gum line.

At the dental clinic during your checkup and dental cleaning appointment, the hygienist will help flush out bacteria around the implant's gingiva with a high speed water unit.  A plastic dental scaler may also be used to hand remove trapped mineral deposits and food plaque in and around periodontal pockets.  The plastic dental scaler is intentionally used to avoid possible accidental trauma to the implant from a metal instrument.  If the implant is not kept clean, a periodontal abscess may result and require surgery to drain the infection, resulting from peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis can exhibit radiographic loss of supporting bone and bleeding upon probing.  Advanced bone loss can lead to implant mobility, loss and extraction of the implant.  At this point you and your dentist can decide if another implant procedure is appropriate.

Keeping a dental implant free of plaque and debris is vital to the longevity and success of your implant.  If you have any questions, be sure to consult with your family dentist.

From the desk of your Bellevue dentist,
Peter Chien, DMD, MPH


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