While implants may be the next best thing to your natural teeth that dentistry has to offer, they are not exactly the same as your own teeth. Because of this, caring for implants calls for a different approach both here in our office and with you at home. The gum tissue around an implant is different from that found about one of your own teeth. The ligaments coming from the gum that insert into the root surface of your natural tooth cannot take hold with an implant. Since these ligaments are absent at your implant sites, the cells that produce them are in short supply throughout the gum tissue surrounding them. These cells are also associated with blood vessel development so periimplant (around your implant) gum tissue tends to have less blood vessels to supply it with the white blood cells your body uses to fight gum disease.
The implants used to replace natural teeth must be given the same conscientious home care as your natural teeth.
The bacteria in your mouth found on and around your teeth that cause gum disease are easily transferred to any implants you may have. Because of the differences in gum tissue encircling implants noted above, periimplant disease (gum disease at implants) tends to progress more rapidly and become more extensive than periodontal disease (gum disease at teeth). There are certain situations that can make this condition even worse that you must avoid. Scratches on the surface of your implant above the level of your jaw bone can attract and retain the bacteria causing periimplant disease. For this reason you should never use anything hard, such as a toothpick, to clean your implants. Here in the office, our hygienist uses specially fabricated plastic scalers to remove build-up from the surface of your implants. At home you should only use the different brushing and flossing implements that we recommend to you for this purpose.
Using a "criss-cross" flossing technique for implants, such as these supporting a denture, cleans them most efficiently.
Because periimplant disease has the potential to be more aggressive than its natural tooth counterpart, we recommend that you have your cleanings done here in the office more frequently than you normally would. If you have no remaining natural teeth left with your implants, this is not necessary. Another situation that can increase your risk of periimplant disease is overloading the implant through the forces of parafunctional habits like bruxism (grinding) or clenching. For this reason, anyone receiving implants who exhibits a pattern of tooth attrition that reflects these habits is advised to wear an appliance called a nightguard to protect them.