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Dental Implant Maintenance Guide: Everything You Need to Know

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Dental implants need to be cleaned regularly, just like your natural teeth, to keep them free from bacteria and plaque. Even patients with no remaining natural teeth need to ensure their mouths remain healthy, as plaque and bacteria can cause gum disease as well as tooth decay.

Proper maintenance not only keeps your mouth healthy, but it also helps ensure that your implants last longer.

Avoiding Gum Disease

A buildup of plaque and bacteria can cause your remaining natural teeth to decay and can also lead to gum disease. According to the Canadian Dental Association, 70% of Canadians will develop gum disease at some point in their lives.

Patients with dental implants are also at risk of developing serious forms of gum disease called peri-implant diseases. Peri-implant diseases that occur when bacteria and plaque are allowed to build up on and around your dental implants causing both the hard and soft portions of your gums to become inflamed. There are two forms of peri-implant disease: peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis.

  • Peri-implant mucositis refers to inflammation of the soft gum tissues around the implant and is typically the precursor to the more serious peri-implantitis. Peri-implant mucositis can be treated, and its damage reversed if it is caught and treated early.
  • Peri-implantitis also causes inflammation of the gum tissue but also causes the bone around your implant to begin deteriorating. Most cases of peri-implantitis can only be treated using surgery.

Signs of gum disease, including peri-implant diseases, include red or tender gums around your implants or bleeding while brushing around your dental implants.

Proper care and maintenance of your dental implants, both at home and by your dentist, can help you prevent gum diseases and other oral health issues, as well as extend the life of your implants.

Professional Cleanings and Exams

One of the best things you can do to catch gum disease and other oral problems early on is to visit your dentist regularly. Regular dental exams allow your dentist to keep tabs on how your mouth is handling your implants and check for gum disease and other problems, and regular professional cleanings can remove any plaque or tartar that have built up on your dentures or around your dental implants.

Dental hygienists typically use metal tools when cleaning our natural teeth, but these tools can damage your dental implants. To avoid causing damage dental hygienists use special tools made of plastic or resin to clean dental implants while cleaning your teeth.

If your dentist or dental hygienist notices that something might be wrong with your dental implant, they will let you know. Depending on the nature of the problem it will either be treated by your dentist or by your denturist.

At Home Oral Hygiene Routine

How you care for your dental implant at home depends on the nature of your implant. Implant supported dentures require a different approach to care then single implants. All dental implants should be cleaned after eating, before you go to bed, and when you get up in the morning.

Cleaning Removable or Removable Implant Supported Dentures

Removable dentures, including standard complete, standard partial and removable implant supported partials, are relatively easy to clean. Before you begin cleaning your removable dentures, you should either fill your bathroom sink with water or place a towel down on the counter. This will cushion your dentures if you accidentally drop them, and reduce the chances of them breaking.

Step 1: Remove Your Dentures and Rinse Them

To begin, remove your dentures and give them a rinse under cool water to remove any food particles or other debris. You should handle your dentures carefully to avoid bending or damaging them. Never use hot water on your dentures, as this may cause them to warp.

Step 2: Clean Your Mouth

Next, you should clean your mouth. Using a soft toothbrush to clean your tongue, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth. If you have any remaining natural teeth, you should also clean them at this time.

Step 3: Brush Your Dentures

Carefully brush your dentures with a soft bristled brush and a non-abrasive denture cleanser to remove any stubborn plaque, food, or other particles. Never use abrasive cleaning materials, whitening toothpaste, or bleaching products on your dentures.

When you have finished, you can either return your dentures to your mouth or leave them to soak in either plain, cool water or a denture cleaning solution. You should always soak your dentures overnight to prevent them from drying out or warping.

If you use a denture cleanser be sure to rinse your dentures thoroughly before returning them to your mouth. Never put denture cleanser in your mouth. Denture cleanser contains harmful chemicals that can cause pain, burns, or vomiting if swallowed.

Dentures with metal attachments, such as implant supported dentures, should never be soaked in chlorine. Chlorine can tarnish the metal and cause corrosion.

Cleaning Non Removable (All on Four) Implant Supported Dentures

Because all on four implant supported dentures are not removable, they can present a unique cleaning challenge. However, a robust and thorough home cleaning routine can help ensure that your mouth remains healthy and extend the life of your dentures.

Step 1: Use a Water Pick

Choose a water pick that offers an adjustable flow, then place the nozzle between your gums and your dentures. Spray water under your dentures from both the cheek side and the tongue side to remove any food particles or other debris that has collected under your denture.

Step 2: Use Superfloss or a Similar Product

Superfloss and other similar products are specifically designed for individuals with all on four implant supported dentures, braces, bridges, and teeth with wide gaps. Using the straight end of the floss gently work the floss underneath your denture until it comes out the other side. Pull the entire length of the floss through to remove any debris.

Step 3: Brush Your Teeth and Gums

Your denturist or dentist can suggest an appropriate toothpaste for your denture based on its exact composition. Dentures made from zirconia or porcelain are designed to withstand the abrasive qualities of toothpaste, but dentures made from acrylic are not. Acrylic dentures can be brushed using mouth rinse.

As you brush your teeth, you should also take the time to gently clean your gums, and be sure to work the bristles of your toothbrush under your dentures.

Your dentist or denturist may also provide you with a nightguard for your all on four dentures. A nightguard keeps your teeth separated during the night and can help prevent wear and tear, extending the life of your dentures.

If at any point you are unsure how to properly care for your dental implant, or have any questions or concerns, the team at MyBite is here to help. For more information about dental implants, please visit our website or schedule a consultation.

Written by Wade Klimpke

Wade Klimpke is a past President and long-standing member of the College of Alberta Denturists. Wade leads a number of industry working groups which help advance and monitor old, current, and new industry developments. This has allowed him to gain a number of industry relationships with implant dentistry suppliers in Canada and the United States.
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