The dental implants are ideal choice for replacing the missing teeth due to its benefits- high success rate, better quality of life, preserves the facial harmony by preventing resorption of the jaw bone, look and feel natural tooth and improved ability to eat. Although they are visually indistinguishable from the natural teeth, yet they need to be cared for in a slightly different manner. It is vital for the patients and clinicians to understand that there are anatomical differences between a natural tooth and a dental implant that can make at-home maintenance practices challenging. Here are the dental implant care basics for single tooth replacement with proper oral hygiene instructions.
Tooth vs. implant shape
The difference in shape natural teeth have a wider neck while dental implants have a smaller neck. The difference in design is more apparent in the molar teeth because the molars have multiple roots while the dental implants replace the roots of any tooth with only one root ot fixture. Since implants have a small circumference at the neck of the crown, the patient may experience a feeling of wider space when using the iterproximal cleaners. Patients with single implant next to the natural teeth have an increased risk for caries on the opposing natural teeth, if proper home care techniques are not established. This occurs when the bone height around the natural teeth is higher than the proximal implant and needs more thorough cleaning by the patient.
Preventing implant failure
The first step to prevent peri-implant diseases is to build an effective plaque removal routine and practice it two to three times a day at home. The mechanical action achieved with toothbrush and interproximal cleaners is the most effective way to remove the sticky plaque. Below are the home care recommendations for the implant care:
Home care recommendations for implant care
The electric toothbrushes have shown to dirupt bioflim better than a manual brush due to the ability to generate more brush strokes than the human hand. Irrespective of the choice of the toothbrush, patients are advised to brush for a full two minutes with a soft bristle brush. The end tuft brushes are great for those hard to reach areas of reaching around the sometime bulky contours of implant crowns.
The water flossers have shown to disrupt the bacteria in pocket depths measuring up to 6mm deep. However, this is a technique sensitive approach to interproximal care. Patients should be educated about proper techniques and be advised to use water flossers on a low pressure setting. Other recommendations include products promoting gingival stimulation such as rubber tip stimulators, soft picks and proxabrushes with plastic wires. Ensure to select a type of dental flow that won’t shred or leave the particles behind as it may lead to implantitis.
Dentifrice and over-the-counter mouthwash
Since the mechanical action is achieved with a toothbrush and interproximal cleaners are ideal for disruption of slimy biofilm, patients inquiring about dentifrice and over the counter mouthwash should use a nonabrasive formula containing antimicrobial ingredients.
Protective appliances (night guards and/or retainers)
If dentist recommends occlusal guards, it will decrease the occlusal load on the dental implants during the night time grinding or clenching. Retainers will be fabricated for patients with dental implant proximal to the natural teeth for preventing the development of the open contacts. The natural teeth are dynamic due to the presence of the periodontal ligament as opposed to the implant which is ankylosed into the bone and will not move. The open contacts can lead to interproximal caries in the natural teeth and peri-implant diseases.
The routine professional maintenance appointments are necessary to maintain the health of dental implant by ensuring its longevity. Dental hygienist plays an integral role to determine the schedule for professional maintenance based on the implant prosthesis, dexterity and overall health of the patient. Dental implants are a large investment in the oral health- it needs proper maintenance and the patient is required to spend more time on their home care as well as regular professional visits. Further, these factors should be presented to the patients as they consider the dental implants as a restorative option.