Missing teeth can not only harm your self-esteem but also lead to issues with health and nutrition. In addition to making it harder to chew, missing teeth can cause your jawbone to deteriorate over time, affect your speech, and cause other teeth to shift into the gap, leading to spaces throughout your smile.
Virginia Surgical Arts offers state-of-the-art dental implants, the only permanent tooth replacement solution. As long as you take good care of your implants, they could last your entire life. Caring for dental implants is relatively straightforward; we will walk you through it step-by-step.
You will clean your dental implants when you brush and floss your natural teeth, at least two times a day. Some people prefer to brush after every meal to remove debris and lingering flavors; that’s okay, too.
You can’t remove dental implants with a permanent crown. Just like your natural teeth, they are permanent, and you care for them just as they are. Many people choose dental implants for this reason; you never take them out to eat, drink, or clean.
Although your dental implants will not decay, it is just as important to care for them as it is to care for your natural teeth. Just like natural teeth, your implants can serve as hosts for plaque, tartar, and bacteria. Also, like natural teeth, the crown on your implant (the visible tooth portion) is placed under the gumline. Failure to brush and floss can lead to buildup of plaque and bacteria on the implant and cause serious complications like peri-implantitis, the form of gingivitis, or periodontal disease that forms around an implanted tooth.
Peri-implantitis refers to inflammation of the soft tissue (gums) and hard tissue (bones) around the implant. Left untreated, it can cause significant bone loss and eventually loss of the implant. Symptoms of peri-implantitis include:
Signs of advanced peri-implantitis or gum disease include pain and loosening of the dental implant. The best way to reverse peri-implantitis is to identify it early and take steps toward improved oral health: brush thoroughly according to your provider’s instructions at least twice a day and floss at least once daily. Your dentist might also recommend an over-the-counter or prescription mouthwash to help reduce inflammation and address infection.
Single dental implants consist of one implanted tooth surrounded by natural teeth. In many ways, your oral hygiene routine will not change when you have a single implant; care involves brushing and flossing.
Brush all of your teeth, including your single implants, at least twice a day. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to protect your gums, remove plaque and tarter, and disrupt bacteria from the surface of the teeth. You can either use a manual or electric toothbrush. When brushing, be sure to brush the entire crown of the tooth and the gumline. The places where your teeth and your gums meet are perfect hiding spots for plaque and germs and are often overlooked when brushing.
If you experience soreness or your gums bleed when you brush your gumline, it is a sign that inflammation is present. Do not stop brushing around your gums. Instead, be more intentional about brushing twice a day, gently, until your symptoms resolve.
Once you have dental implants, you should use low-abrasive toothpaste to prevent damaging acrylic and porcelain. Your dentist can provide recommendations, or you can look for any toothpaste designed for use on dental implants with the ADA seal of approval.
Now that you have a dental implant, you should use a special kind of dental floss called crown and bridge floss. A crown and bridge flosser has a thicker, fuzzy portion in the middle with two stiffer ends. Slide it in between your implant and the tooth next to it right after brushing and rub it from side to side, ‘scrubbing’ the implant and removing buildup and food particles that might be hiding between the teeth. Pull through to the other side to remove – never pull down. Repeat on the other side of your implant.
Alternatively, you can use an oral irrigator/water flosser. Water flossers are just as effective as manual flossing, and you can customize your experience. For example, if you are prone to cavities in between your teeth, you can add a bit of antibacterial mouthwash to the basin of your water flosser for a hygienic boost. Water flossers typically have varying speed settings. Start at the lowest setting to be gentle to gums around your dental implant. As the area heals, increase the speed setting.
All-on-4 implants replace a full arch of teeth (upper or lower) instead of just one tooth. It is important to brush your teeth just as often as you would brush natural teeth – two times daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste.
You can clean the space between your gums and your bridge with a floss threader, Proxabrush/Sulcus, rubber-tip stimulator, or super floss.
Floss threaders look like a supersized plastic needle. To use a floss threader, thread your floss and then pull it under your all-on-4 appliance. Sliding it along the length of your appliance will help you remove bacteria and food debris that has collected in the space.
Proxabrushes consist of a handle and a tip that resembles a pipe cleaner. The tip can be slid between your gums and your all-on-4 appliance to clean and catch food.
A rubber tip gum stimulator has a handle and a pointy rubber tip, used to gently remove plaque and debris along the gumline under your all-on-4 appliance.
Also known as tufted floss, superfloss is thicker than standard floss and designed to clean under braces and under all-on-4 appliances.
Overdentures are removable, full arch dentures that affix to implants. To care for your overdentures, remove them every evening and brush them with a soft-bristled denture brush and no toothpaste. Soak the appliance overnight in cleaning solution designed for dentures, rinse thoroughly in the morning, and reinsert. Look closely at your overdenture often to identify any problems; typically locator caps and o-rings need to be replaced every year.
Seeing your dental hygienist for a professional cleaning and your dentist for a routine checkup at least every six months can help you identify and resolve dental health issues early. It also gives them an opportunity to examine the gum tissue around your implant for signs of inflammation of infection.
Never use bleach, baking soda, or chlorine-based solutions on your implants, and avoid abrasive toothpastes when brushing your teeth to protect the implant surface.
Chewing on hard objects can damage or break the crown on your implant; avoid biting or chewing on hard objects to ensure longevity.
Grinding your teeth can be especially damaging for dental implants. If you suspect you might be grinding your teeth, schedule an appointment to have an appliance made to protect your teeth and implants from damage.