Dental implants can last as long as natural teeth, provided they are well looked after. Whether you’ve had one or multiple implants, stellar oral hygiene and regular check-ups will have the most significant impact on how long they last. To make sure you get the most out of your dental implants, we’ve put together some essential care tips.
In the hours following surgery, avoid eating hot and hard foods that could damage your implants during the healing process. Keep your mouth as clean as possible, rinse with recommended mouthwash several times a day and take any antibiotics you’ve been prescribed. Don’t touch your implants with your fingers or tongue and avoid drinking alcohol and smoking for at least two weeks because they can slow down the healing process.
Just like natural teeth, dental implants require regular cleaning, maintenance and regular professional care. Their longevity relies on numerous factors, including lifestyle habits and commitment to oral hygiene. Bacteria and plaque collect on implants just as they do on your natural teeth, so you have to make sure you remove it on a daily basis.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day for no less than two minutes each time using an electric toothbrush or soft toothbrush. Pay attention to both sides of your teeth and the areas where you chew. Be sure to change your toothbrush regularly.
Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles between your implants and to target bacteria that may be lurking under the gums. Once bacteria gets under your gum line, it can cause gum disease and may ultimately lead to the loss of your natural teeth and your implants. The root of a dental implant is held in place by your jawbone, and any bone degeneration can result in it becoming less firmly embedded. Regular flossing removes bacteria that toothbrushes cannot reach.
Although stress and anxiety are common causes of teeth grinding, it often occurs at night, so you may not even be aware of the habit. Dental implants are more susceptible to damage from tooth grinding, such as chips and cracks. Speak to your dentist about wearing a special dental appliance at night to reduce grinding and eliminate the harm it may cause your implants.
Regular check-ups and cleaning are critical to the health of your dental implants. They will allow the dentist to check your implants’ health and make sure they are getting the care they need. Your dentist will also be able to see how well the implants are holding and tell you if they suspect anything is wrong.
Smoking influences both general health and oral health and increases the risk of periodontal disease, root caries and oral precancerous and cancerous lesions. Tobacco negatively affects the outcome of almost all routine therapeutic procedures performed in the mouth, including dental implant surgery. Some studies have demonstrated that increased tobacco use is linked with increased implant failures. If you’re currently a smoker, your dentist will advise you on ways to give up the habit.
Alongside maintaining excellent oral hygiene, it is also a good idea to keep an eye out for unusual changes in your mouth that could indicate a problem with your implants. For example:
If you suspect you have an infection, make an appointment with your dentist immediately.
A flossing alternative is to use an interdental brush, a small oral hygiene brush designed to be inserted between teeth. It allows you to easily clean between and around your implants, keeping them free from food debris.
Implants are stable because they are fused to the jawbone. However, that doesn’t mean you can ignore what you’re eating. Try to avoid hard candies, apples, carrots and crusty bread to save your implants and jaw from unnecessary stress. If you are going to eat hard foods, chew them on the side of your mouth that has no implants.
There is no definitive answer as to how long dental implants will last. However, if made of high-quality material, implanted well by your dentist and with good dental implant care, there is no reason why they shouldn’t last a lifetime.
Dental implants are an excellent choice to replace missing teeth due to accident, disease or injury. If you’re thinking about implants to restore your natural-looking smile, schedule a consultation with Dr. Melba Akinwande at Chesterfield Dentistry by calling (314) 469 6420 or booking online.