Caring for Implants

By the time we are in our 40s, nearly three out of four of us have lost at least one permanent tooth. Are you in that group? Have we told you that you are a good candidate for a dental implant? Since I’ve written in the past about our Hybridge implant solution, rather than discuss the implant procedure, I’m going to answer a question we get asked a lot — how do I properly care for a dental implant? Read more to see just how easy it is to take proper care of an implant.

The Stages of Implant Care

Having a successful implant procedure begins before the surgery. By practicing good oral hygiene at home, you are more likely to have the healthy gums required for an implant. If you lost the tooth as a result of gum disease, we’ll have to treat that first. Where severe cases of gum disease have caused bone loss, you may need a bone graft to go forward with the implant.

Immediately after surgery — and it is a surgical procedure to embed the implant in your jaw — the implant area may be slightly swollen and tender. We will recommend that you eat soft foods and drink liquids for the first few days to reduce irritation. The most common long-term reason implants fail is infection. You can lessen the risk by using saltwater rinses to keep the area clean and bacteria-free. When antibiotics are prescribed, stay on them for the full course of treatment, even if you feel there isn’t an infection present. If you notice any swelling, redness, or pain, see us right away. Taking care of an infection quickly makes treatment easier and more effective.

To ensure good oral health, regular checkups are advised. This is especially true if you’ve had an implant so we can examine the implant and surrounding gum tissue for any developing issues. You treat an implant just as you would normal teeth, with daily brushing and flossing. When you floss, use unwaxed or implant-specific floss.

You’ve made an investment of time and money with your implant. Protect it by avoiding habits that can damage the implant. Don’t chew hard candy or ice, and don’t grind your teeth. And don’t smoke. Studies have shown that because smoking restricts blood flow to the gums, smokers have a 20% implant failure rate.

The Safe, Permanent Replacement Option

As you can see, proper care for a dental implant is not much different from your normal oral hygiene regimen. With proper care, a dental implant can last a lifetime. If you or a loved one has a missing tooth, call our office today to schedule an examination to determine if an implant is right for you.

To your health,

Dr. Pearce