Dental implants are a great technology that has transformed the way we look at tooth loss and replacement. They basically give people the option to “start again” with a fresh tooth after their permanent adult teeth are lost.
But, dentists are warning, the success of dental implants may be leading to a major problem: overconfidence. People are so convinced in the effectiveness of dental implants that they are forgetting the need for basic care to prevent problems later on.
Dental Implants Seen as “Indestructible”
One of the problems with dental implants is that many patients imagine that they are indestructible, and, really, it’s not hard to see why. With a titanium alloy root and a dental crown made of a space-age ceramic, how could they not be?
And, people think, the implant can’t possibly be affected by bacteria. After all, neither the implant nor the crown can be attacked by the acid secreted by plaque-causing bacteria. So of course some people think there’s no reason to brush–let alone floss–and dental visits are less necessary.
The problem with this line of thinking is that dental implants can definitely be attacked by oral bacteria. Not in themselves, of course, but in the surrounding tissue, the gums and bones that support the implant. These are vulnerable to a condition called peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis is just the same thing as periodontitis–gum disease–only it occurs around the dental implant instead of around teeth. This can lead to the loss of dental implants, damage and loss of neighboring teeth, and even to systemic problems, just like gum disease can.
It’s worth noting that this problem isn’t new to dental implants. Many people think that once they get dentures, they no longer need to care for their mouths and they can skip dentist visits. But dentures also require regular care including dental visits.
Daily Care Is Crucial but Easy
The good news is that peri-implantitis can be prevented the same way we prevent regular gum disease. Brush at least twice daily. Floss every day. And visit the dentist regularly.
There may be a few subtle differences in the way you brush and floss, and, depending on your risk factors, we might ask to see you a little more often, but, for the most part, caring for dental implants means just doing what you should have been doing all along. Because, after all, the risk isn’t in the dental implant, it’s in your tissues, the same tissues that used to support your natural teeth.