If you have had a dental implant to replace a missing tooth, you are in good company. Dental implants are a popular choice for those seeking an effective tooth replacement option. Since dental implants handily replace one or more lost teeth by replicating both the tooth root and the crown of the tooth, they appear to make durable, long-lasting, and natural-looking options.
Even so, dental implants can sometimes succumb to peri-implantitis, a condition which causes dental implants to fail. We want to make sure that you know how to prevent peri-implant diseases and what you can expect if you do have it.
Often stemming from inflammatory conditions, peri-implantitis can affect both the hard and soft gum tissues that support your dental implant. The gum tissue can’t attach to the dental implant as well as it does to a natural tooth. If your gum tissue isn’t able to attach correctly to the implant, you can be left with a space that invites oral bacteria to enter, inflaming the tissue and bone.
Dental implants are also affected by the buildup of plaque around them, much like a natural tooth as bacterial plaque builds up around the base of your implant. If this is left unchecked, the bacteria will thrive, while irritating sensitive gum tissue and damaging it. It can eventually lead to the deterioration of the bone material that supports the implant, causing it to fail.
Peri-implantitis is considered an extension of peri-implant mucositis, which inflames the gum tissue but doesn’t cause bone loss and is characterized by bleeding of the gum tissue and discomfort. When this goes on long enough, it will cause your dental implant to fail, even if it has already healed and bonded with the bone. Dental implant failure is a common problem with dental implants and is challenging to treat. If you notice any of the following after having dental implants placed, you may have peri-implantitis.
What to Look For
- Your gum tissue appears red and tender around the dental implant.
- You feel pain or discomfort in the gum tissue surrounding the implant.
- Your gums bleed when you brush your teeth.
- Your dental implant feels loose.
- You can see pus around the implant, or you have a bad taste in your mouth.
Any of these signs indicate something unhealthy is going on in your mouth, so being seen is important to determine the cause and treat the condition.
Who Is at Risk for Peri-Implantitis?
You are more susceptible to developing peri-implantitis if you:
- Have had gum disease or bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching) in the past
- Have unmanaged diabetes or osteoporosis
- Have lax daily oral hygiene habits
- Smoke or use tobacco products
You will likely be a good candidate for dental implants based on your oral health history and your current dental health that increases your chances of proper healing while reducing the risk for potential complications.
Daily Oral Hygiene
- The best way to prevent peri-implantitis is to take diligent care of your dental implants to keep your smile healthy and strong for years to come. Insufficient daily dental hygiene practices can lead to this disease. Brush and floss your teeth every day as recommended by your dentist, including around your dental implant. Floss gently so you don’t harm sensitive gum tissue, especially around the dental crown capping your dental implant. You don’t want to damage the gum tissue attaching the tissue to the crown.
Routine Dental Checkups and Cleanings
- Regular dental checkups are also important to make sure your supporting bone and gums are healthy. Your dentist can catch peri-implantitis when it is in the early stages and most easily responsive to treatment. Antibiotics can treat the infection, and laser therapy can destroy oral harmful bacteria. A serious infection may require surgically cleaning, or a bone or gum tissue graft to strengthen the area around the dental implant.
Our skilled periodontist and periodontal team are here to help you maintain healthy gums that will support your dental implant for years to come. Call today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you with all of your periodontal needs!