If you are considering dental implants as a tooth replacement option, or even if you already have implants, you may be wondering if there is any special care that needs to be taken in order to keep your new teeth in good shape. In fact, caring for dental implants, and the replacement teeth they support, is not much different than caring for your natural teeth, although there are a few things to keep in mind.
When a dental implant is first placed into the jawbone, it needs some time to completely heal and integrate with the surrounding bone tissue. During this period, your dentist will likely not put a permanent tooth replacement option in, but rather will cover the space with a temporary replacement. This is done because as the area around the implant heals, the swelling will go down and slight changes may occur to the tissue that may make a permanent replacement placed at this time not fit properly once everything is completely healed.
During this time, your dentist will provide you with instructions for how to care for the area surrounding the implant, but primarily your job will be to keep the area cleaned and cared for so that it is allowed to heal. For a short time after the procedure, you’ll also likely be instructed to avoid biting into anything hard on the side of where the implants were placed, but after the initial healing period, you will be able to eat as normal.
Once the initial healing period has passed, your routine care will be much the same as it is for your natural teeth. You will be instructed to brush and floss as usual. The primary difference is that your dentist will likely recommend that you use a special instrument to make sure that you clean under and around the abutment that is attached to the implant. The abutment is the false tooth structure that is attached to the implant (which serves as the root of the tooth and is attached to the jawbone) and it sits on top of the gum line. This is the one primary difference compared to your natural tooth, which is firmly anchored below the gumline.
Since there is a slight space between the abutment and the gumline, it is imperative that the area be well maintained so that bacteria and debris are not allowed to sit there. While the false teeth cannot be affected by tooth decay like natural teeth, bacteria and debris can negatively impact the underlying gum tissue and can even compromise bone health.
Your dentist may also recommend that you increase the frequency with which you come into the office for preventative exams. Most dentists recommend that patients with healthy teeth and gums make twice yearly visits to the dentist for professional cleanings and preventative screenings, but if you have dental implants or any concerns about tooth or gum health, the recommendation may be moved up to every 3 – 4 months for these critical visits.
With proper care, dental implants and the replacement teeth they support can last you for years or even decades, providing you with the beauty and functionality you need to keep smiling.
For more information about caring for dental implants, contact Gentle Dental in Queens at 718-461-0100.