Caring for your new implant(s) is a very important part of the overall treatment and success. Your surgeon and restorative dentist will schedule periodic check-up visits to make sure you are healthy and the implants and prosthesis are functioning properly. Just as important as regular professional care, however, is your own care of your implants and prosthesis.
Following are guidelines for proper maintenance of your implants:
- Keep your implants clean! It is important to maintain good oral hygiene and have regular periodontal evaluations. Following the instructions of your surgeon, dentist, and dental hygienist is a good way to protect your investment.
- Avoid chewing or placing pressure on the implant site during the initial healing period, which may last for 3-4 months.
- Abutment posts beneath a removable prosthesis (denture) or bridge must be cleaned just like regular teeth. If you have a Hader bar to support your denture, it must be regularly cleaned free of plaque and debris.
- Any redness, bleeding or inflammation are warning signs of infection and should be reported to your dentist or oral surgeon. Ignoring these signs could result in loss of the implant.
- Use only home care aids that are approved for dental implants. Soft bristle toothbrushes are ideal and always the best choice. You may even want to consider using an electric toothbrush. It is important that you never use any kind of brush or interdental device that has a wire base. Even the smallest amount of metal can potentially cause microscopic scratches on the implant. These small scratches can trap bacteria that can cause inflammation and infection.
- Your dental hygienist should use a special plastic scaler when cleaning around your implant. This again is important as to not cause any damage to the surface of your implant. Any small scratches on the surface of the implant can provide areas for bacteria to become trapped, which could lead to inflammation of the gums, gum disease, and eventual loss of the implant.
- If you experience any discomfort when biting or chewing, especially if it feels like a “high” or “heavy” contact on the implant tooth, it is important that you have your bite checked and adjusted right away. Any extreme force or undue pressure could potentially cause problems and compromise the integrity of the implant, and lead to possible failure of the implant.
- Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as well as chewing hard foods such as ice or hard candy, may result in damage to your implants.