Have you recently had dental implants placed? If so, congratulations! You’re at the beginning of years and years of wonderful, beautiful smiles thanks to these amazing artificial teeth. Dental implants are second to none when it comes to producing lifelike, comfortable, and reliable replacements for lost teeth – your journey has just begun!
We place a lot of dental implants at Edgewood Dental Care, and we want all our patients to be aware of the future needs of their new teeth. Implants may not be subject to the same problems as natural teeth but there are still a lot of things you need to know in order to keep them healthy for life.
Implants Seem Like Teeth, But They Aren’t
Let’s go to the most basic level we can: implants aren’t teeth. While that’s obvious when we you see it in print there can be a different kind of conception about how well implants work, especially when you realize how natural they look and feel. Once they’re healed they aren’t any different than a natural tooth, and that leads most people to believe their care needs are identical.
On the contrary, your dental implants have particular needs that you should be aware of if you want to keep them in tip-top shape! If you got implants at our Edgewood office we probably explained the anatomy of an implant to you, but for clarity’s sake let’s do it again.
Dental implants are titanium screws that are embedded in your jaw in the same place as a natural tooth. That’s pretty much where the similarities end, though. The way that implants bind to bone is completely different than a natural tooth, and your care needs change because of it.
The Differences Between Implants And Teeth
Implants bind to bone through a method called osseointegration. Titanium is used for a variety of implants because of how well it integrates with bone, and dental implants are no different. Now let’s compare that to a natural tooth, which is separated from the bone by a layer called the periodontal ligament.
The ligament is composed of fibers that run between tooth and bone, forming a strong bond. That ligament is completely absent in a dental implant, and that means there’s some health implications for your new tooth.
Each tooth is protected by the periodontal ligament all the way up to the gum line. It prevents bacteria from getting into the space between tooth and bone, which in turn wards off gum disease. But your implant crown can’t bond to the ligament, so it withers away in favor of a suction cup-like bond between the crown and your gums. That bond is nowhere nearly as strong as the periodontal ligament.
Peri-Implant Disease: The Biggest Risk To Implants
When bacteria sneaks in between implant and gums we don’t call it gum disease – it’s peri-implant disease. It’s essentially the same health condition, but we classify it differently because of the other risks it poses. Peri-implant disease can quickly reduce an implant to a wobbly, unreliable mess. In many cases peri-implant disease even causes total implant loss, and it’s nearly impossible to replace them afterward!
The initial symptoms are the same as gum disease: a bit of bleeding around the base of the implant, swelling, redness, and sensitivity. As it progresses you’ll notice gum recession and you may even see the implant itself.
Peri-implant disease is particularly dangerous because of the lack of periodontal ligament. The ligament is much stronger than gum tissue, and bacteria can spread much faster without it. Even the smallest case could move fast, resulting in severe damage or total implant failure. With your implant loss goes your investment and your future with a great, reliable smile!
Preventing Implant Loss
Proper implant care doesn’t need to be complicated – all it takes is twice daily brushing, nightly flossing, and regular dental exams at our Edgewood office. It’s that last part that a lot of people forget – exams are important even if your teeth aren’t real!
When you come to see us for a checkup we’ll be able to assess the health of your implants and take any early steps to preserve their health. With proper care you’ll never have to worry about peri-implant disease or any other implant complications.
If you want to find out more about how to take care of your dental implants simply give us a call at 859-474-7830 – we’re here for you! If you need to schedule an appointment you can do so by phone or by filling out our online appointment request form. We look forward to seeing you soon!