Dental implants have been around for over fifty years, and are now considered the “standard of care,” meaning when you lose a tooth or teeth, dental implants are the best option, ahead of bridges and removable partial dentures. Dental implants feel and look like natural teeth. They can improve your chewing ability so that you can eat healthy foods. And replacing missing teeth with implants can give you back your smile and your confidence.
Just like natural teeth, however, implants can become infected and lost if not taken care of properly. The longevity of your dental implant depends on:
- Brushing: Thorough brushing of your teeth and implants ensures that the 1,000 or so species of bacteria in your mouth are kept to a minimum. I have found the use of a Sonic electric toothbrush to be helpful for most people.
- Flossing: Daily use of dental floss is critical for dislodging food particles between the teeth and implants
- Water Pik/ Water Flosser: This is the game changer for the health of dental implants, and teeth, for that matter. Use a Water Pik or lose your implants. I feel that strongly about it.
- Regular dental check-ups/ professional cleanings: Consider having a dental check-up and cleaning done every 3-4 months at first. You and your hygienist can decide after the first year if you can safely extend the interval. The importance of monitoring implants by a dental professional cannot be understated. If a dental implant becomes infected, early intervention (and sometimes surgery) is key to saving your investment.
- Reduction of common risk factors: The health hazards to dental implants are poor oral hygiene, smoking, diabetes, and gum disease in your natural teeth. A unique risk factor to implants is excessive cement being used when the crown is placed. Be sure to ask your dentist if cement is necessary for your implant crown.