A Comprehensive Guide to Dental Implant Care
A Comprehensive Guide to Dental Implant Care
One of the most frequent questions dental implant patients ask is, “How do I take care of them?” In this article, Cunning Dental Group addresses maintenance concerns, including how to determine if you have an infected dental implant.
What Are Dental Implants?
Before we discuss care, let us first understand the essence of dental implants. These surgical components replace missing teeth, including roots, bridges, and crowns. They play a role in maintaining excellent jaw bone health and help prolong the life of any remaining natural teeth. Dental implants can replace a complete set of upper and lower teeth, a row of teeth, or a single tooth.
What You Need to Know Before Restoration
Careful preparation increases the chances of successful dental implant surgery. For example, if your dentist announces the need for dental implants, it is normal to feel anxious or stressed by the prospect of surgery. Talking to your dentist and understanding the procedure may help alleviate your worries. He or she can even explain the use of intravenous sedation if suitable for your case.
When your dentist schedules you for implant surgery, inform them beforehand about any medication you are using, including anticoagulants (blood thinners). Your dentist can help write a prescription, in which your physician can review and use as a reference to altering your dose.
Last, ask your dental care provider about medications you can take before the operation. The intake of prescription painkillers and antibiotics before surgery can aid in reducing your discomfort and risk of infection.
Dental Implant Care After Surgery
To lower your risk of implant failure and ensure a faster recovery, follow these tips:
- Avoid rinsing your mouth during the first 24 hours.
- After such an invasive procedure, bleeding is normal. To control it, bite on sponges placed in your mouth for at least an hour or up to three hours.
- Limit your food intake to only soft foods for the first 48 hours.
- After a meal, rinse your mouth with warm water combined with a teaspoon of salt.
- Place an ice pack at the surgery site at 15 minute intervals to reduce any swelling.
- Follow your dentist’s prescription and take all medication on time.
- Elevate your head when sitting or lying down and avoid excessive movement for eight to 12 hours.
It is important to note that, in most cases, swelling and discomfort subside within days after the operation. However, the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics notes that initial healing from dental implant surgery takes anywhere between a week to 10 days.
Dental Care While Recovering
Healing varies per patient. On average, it takes nine months or as soon as six weeks for the gums and jaw bone to heal completely and adjust to the dental implant. A patient who experiences prolonged soreness in the gums should maintain a diet of soft foods to help reduce discomfort. If pain and sensitivity persist, contact your dentist.
How to Take Care of Dental Implants Long-Term
Dental implant care extends beyond the recovery period. Daily brushing and flossing, together with routine visits to the dentist, are essential to maintain the implants' pristine appearance and to reduce the possibility of complications.
Signs of an Infected Dental Implant
Research from the University of Gothenburg showed that out of 4,716 participants with dental implants, 14.5 percent had developed an infection. Peri-implantitis is the most common, a form of periodontal (gum) disease that can lead to bone loss, decay, inflammation, and implant failure. A bacterial growth can occur immediately after implantation, sometimes months or years later. Further, if your dentist did not use titanium dental implants, an infection can arise due to the use of poor-quality materials.
The tissue around the implant should always appear pink, firm, and keratinized with no signs of infection. If you have dental implants and suspect something is amiss, look for the following signs:
- Presence of pus and blood. Any abnormal discharge in the mouth can be a serious sign of infection.
- Swollen gums: Gums that appear red and enlarged are critical indicators of implant infection. If the gums are not physically swollen, they may be sensitive and swollen to the touch.
- A horrible taste in the mouth or bad breath. If brushing and flossing do not improve the icky taste in your mouth, it might be because of an infected dental implant.
- Unexpected discomfort or fever. Throbbing pain and a sudden case of elevated temperature often accompany most oral infections. This is because the body is raising its defenses to try to fight off the bacteria.
- Difficulty chewing: If a dentist did not use quality or titanium dental implants, a patient might have problems chewing, regardless if there is an infection.
- Wobbly or loose implant: The lesser the quality of implant used, the higher the risk for infection. An implant that wobbles when your tongue brushes over it or feels like it will fall out, could indicate an infection. A loose implant requires an immediate visit to the dentist for adjustment or replacement.
Good oral hygiene is essential before, during, and after the placement of dental implants. Fortunately, maintaining them requires the same approach as caring for natural teeth. As long as you brush after every meal, floss once daily, rinse, and entrust your dental health to a reputable dentist, you can look forward to a lifetime of healthy teeth and picture-perfect smiles.
Are You Looking for Dental Implant Specialists?
Contact Cunning Dental Group in Southern California if you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms. We diagnose oral infections quickly and comfortably with a clinical exam and radiograph. Depending on the level of infection, we may prescribe special rinses or offer a combination of other treatments to try to save your implant.
Infected dental implants can lead to a severe case of oral damage if left untreated. If saving the implant is no longer an option, we can minimize your risk of future infections by replacing them with one of better quality. Improve the function and beauty of your smile today. Call (855) 328-6646 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.