Caring for Dental Implants

Woman with dental implants smiling and pointing at teeth

Dental implants have transformed how we approach missing teeth replacement, offering a durable and aesthetically pleasing solution for decades. In fact, with proper care, dental implants have a success rate of over 95% and can last for more than 25 years. This longevity highlights the advancements in dental technology and emphasizes the importance of diligent aftercare.

Caring for dental implants properly ensures they offer long-lasting functionality. The following tips can help you clean and maintain your dental implants to prevent post-op complications and keep your new smile looking bright and healthy.

1. Daily Brushing and Flossing

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your teeth and the implant at least twice daily. Brush gently around and under the implant crown to remove plaque and food debris. Consider using an interdental brush or an electric toothbrush for more effective cleaning.

Flossing is also essential to your dental implant care routine. Use unwaxed tape or implant-specific floss to clean around the implants, under the gum line, and between your teeth once a day. Special floss types, such as floss with a stiff end, floss threaders, or a WaterPik, can help clean around the implants more effectively.

2. Use of Low-Abrasive Toothpaste

Choose a toothpaste that’s gentle on your implant crown to prevent scratches. These micro-grooves let bacteria stick more efficiently and allow food and beverage stains to seep in, causing discoloration. Also, avoid toothpaste with baking soda, stain removers, or those made for smokers since they’re too harsh.

3. Avoid Hard and Sticky Foods

While dental implants can look and work just like your natural teeth, it’s essential to be careful with hard and sticky foods, as they can damage both your natural teeth and implants. Avoid eating ice, hard candies, or sticky foods like caramel, which can put too much pressure on the implants and possibly cause damage.

4. Limit Consumption of Staining Substances

Coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco are known for their pigment-rich content that can stain implant crowns. Although porcelain crowns resist stains better than natural teeth, they are not immune to discoloration over time.

Professional whitening treatments do not work on restorations like crowns. Replacing the crowns will be necessary if your implants show signs of discoloration.

5. Use Antimicrobial Mouthwash

An antimicrobial mouthwash reduces the risk of infections by eliminating harmful bacteria around your implants. Use the mouthwash as directed by your dentist, especially in the initial weeks following implant surgery. Most mouthwashes must be swished around your mouth for at least 30 seconds to be effective.

6. Immediate Attention to Problems

Contact your dentist immediately if you experience discomfort, swelling, or bleeding around the implant site. Early detection of potential issues can prevent severe complications like peri-implantitis or implant rejection and help maintain the health of your implants.

Protect Your New Smile

In addition to regular cleaning and care, you must attend regular dental checkups. Schedule regular dental visits and cleanings every six months or as recommended by your dentist.

During these visits, your dentist can monitor the health of your implants and the surrounding tissues. Your dentist can also perform professional cleanings to remove any plaque or tartar buildup that regular brushing and flossing might miss.