Dental implants are a truly remarkable accomplishment in the field of dental health. With proper care, they can last for the rest of your life. And they’re about as close to your natural teeth as you can get, both in terms of how they look and how they function. That means you can smile for all the pictures you want, eat the same foods you normally eat, and drink the same drinks you normally drink. It also means that you can care for them just as you do your natural teeth.
In short, all of the hallmarks of good dental hygiene that you’ve been hearing about since you were a kid can be applied to your dental implants. But it never hurts to review the basics.
Brushing and Flossing
Brush your teeth twice a day and see your dentist twice a year was an old Madison Avenue jingle for Pepsodent toothpaste. It’s good to make brushing a habit that once installed is hard to break. So ‘brush and floss twice per day’, when you first wake up in the morning and just before you go to bed at night may be the best time to tie a good oral health habit to. No special brushes or tools are needed to care for your dental implants, just your regular toothbrush, be it manual or electric, and a few inches of floss, or a trusty floss pick. It’s important that you take your time brushing your teeth; all told, it should take you brush and floss for around two minutes.
It can seem silly to talk about the “right way” to brush, as it’s something you’ve been doing since you were little, but it can be easy to neglect small aspects of brushing that could lead to big consequences. AND REALLY, YOUR MOUTH CHANGES THROUGHOUT YOUR LIFETIME SO THE WAY YOU BRUSH MAY NEED TO CHANGE TO REMAIN EFFECTIVE. They key to brushing properly is to think about getting things clean, not just pretty. Many of us focus on brushing the front of our teeth, making sure none of our dinner shows through and that there’s no gunk built up along the bottoms or tops, right at the gum line. But you need to get all five sides of your teeth and the part below the gum nice and clean. That’s right, all five. Front, back, both sides, and the top and extend to the bottom. Proper flossing will take care of the sides, while your brush can take care of the rest.
Make sure your nighttime brushing and flossing occurs after you’ve had your last bite of food or sip of beverage other than water. The gunk that’s left behind by food and drinks does double duty on dental damage during the evening, as it’s typically not disturbed for several hours.
These are the basics. If possible, working in a light brushing after meals will help you go above and beyond and promote truly excellent dental hygiene.
Regular Dental Checkups
Regular dental checkups every six months or every 3 months if you have had problems with gum disease are the other piece of the dental implant care puzzle. Despite the best efforts of even the most intrepid brushers and flossers, there are still hard-to-reach areas that seem like they were designed for no other purpose than to store plaque. And amazingly, the plaque you don’t get off can start to calcify within 3 hours of the last good cleaning. If you build up calculus or tartar on your teeth, it becomes just like trying to clean stucco. Your dentist and dental hygienist will make sure that every nook and cranny is nice and clean and smooth so that you can clean the soft plaque off more easily. They’ll also help you to catch the first signs of trouble and stop them in their tracks.
While the procedures of caring for dental implants may be the same as natural teeth, the consequences for not keeping up with them are more severe. Bacterial build-up in your mouth is never a good thing, but if the area around your dental implant becomes infected, it can quickly lead to a condition known as peri-implantitis. The body will react to waste products from germs that seep past the skin adhering to the implant or tooth. The reaction of the body is similar to the reaction to foreign body (sliver) that your body’s immune system tries to wall of and expel. This eats away at the gum and bone underneath the implant, and it can do so at a surprisingly aggressive rate. Proper dental hygiene dental recall cleanings will help you avoid this decidedly unpleasant occurrence.
if you’ve got questions about implant dentistry in the Omaha, NE area, we’ve got answers here at Specialty Dental Care. Give us a call today at 402.334.8083.