Dental implants are one of the preferred methods of replacing missing teeth, whether it's a single tooth or all of them. Unlike dentures, implants look and behave just like your natural teeth. Just like natural teeth, they also require good basic hygiene. One concern is a peri-implant infection. Fortunately, you can usually avoid this problem with proper oral care. The following tips will help.
Tip #1: Quit the tobacco
Tobacco use, whether you smoke or chew, weakens your immune system because it slows your circulation. This can affect healing anywhere in the body, but it has a profound effect on oral healing. Your best bet is to stop tobacco use in the weeks leading up to the implant placement and then continue to abstain – at least until you have fully recovered form the surgery.
Tip #2: Invest in a water pick
Flossing and brushing thoroughly can be difficult right after the implant posts are placed because your gums will be tender. This is also the time when bacteria is more likely to cause an infection. A water pick, or water flosser, can help you keep your mouth clean if you use it after every meal. Continue to brush and floss your natural teeth as normal, then use the pick to remove any remaining food residue from between your teeth or around the implants.
Tip #3: Try a salt water rinse
Salt water rinsing achieves a few goals. It helps reduce swelling, which can help with the pain during recovery. The salt also kills bacteria, which minimizes infections. Your dentist may not want you to rinse right away following surgery, so check with the dentist to find out when the best time is to start using a salt water rinse. They can also advise on how often it should be done. Some dentists may prescribe a prescription rinse instead of or in addition to the salt water rinse.
Tip #4: Act quickly when there's an issue
Whether you have had your implants a few weeks or a few years, contact your dentist immediately if the implant seems loose or if you notice inflammation in the gums surrounding the implant site. A loose implant can allow food to slip between the gums and the post, increasing the chances for an infection. If the gums are inflamed, you may already have an infection. Prompt treatment, including antibiotics, can help heal the problem before it results in a failed implant.
For more information, talk to a professional like Oral Surgery Associates Inc.