Dental implantology is an advanced field of dentistry, which allows to use proven and safe solutions. The effectiveness of implant treatment is at a very high level. All thanks to the growing knowledge about available materials, wider possibilities of periodontal and bone tissue regeneration and the awareness of the patients themselves about the best practices of oral hygiene during and after implant treatment.
It is the latter factor, i.e. proper oral hygiene after treatment, that is the key element ensuring the long life of dental implants.
Appropriate tools for cleaning teeth and gums, but also practices related to diet or lifestyle are important. Today we will discuss the most important of them.
1. Selection of a toothbrush for cleaning and washing dental implants
An implant is usually a porcelain crown mounted on a connector, which is attached to a titanium screw implanted into the jaw bone. Although the materials used are biocompatible and resistant to external factors, the implant requires similar or even more thorough hygiene than a normal live tooth. Why? Stone and bacteria will not damage the coating of the crown, or damage the structure of titanium, may affect the condition of the bone, gums and periodontium around the implant. That is why it is so important to take care of oral hygiene.
Some specialists believe that in many cases a manual toothbrush will be sufficient for the daily hygiene of implants. It is important to use it properly, i.e. through sweeping movements (from root to crown), do not press too hard and, especially in the case of implants, choose the hardness of the bristles properly – which usually means putting toothbrushes from the medium or soft group. However, a manual toothbrush has its limitations and, in the era of better methods available, is not an optimal solution.
Rotary electric toothbrush
Rotary toothbrushes are very popular and effective. Research shows that they remove tartar better and reach interdental cavities with greater precision than manual toothbrushes. Dentists have no objections to the use of such toothbrushes when washing implants. However, while rotary toothbrushes can handle the stone on the crown of the implant, you should be careful with the gum area. Especially when we are prone to recession of gum pockets. In short – a rotary toothbrush yes, but with caution and delicacy around the gums.
The sonic toothbrush has the advantages of a rotary toothbrush, but it is also much softer for the gum line, which is so important when taking care of the implants. In addition, the impulses that move the water mixed with the toothpaste allow better access to the interdental space, especially if there is more space between the implants – this applies especially to posterior teeth implants.
Electric sonic toothbrushes also have much finer head bristles more often, making them more gentle on our gums. Periodontologists, or gum specialists, very often recommend these toothbrushes to people with hypersensitivity or exposed dental necks. They clean effectively and at the same time they are very delicate, additionally providing the most recommended method of cleaning, i.e. through the sweeping movement.
All these features make the sonic toothbrush seem to be the optimal solution for people with dental implants. However, it is worth preserving a healthy seedling. Other types of toothbrushes, properly used, will allow you to take care of the implants in a sufficient way.
2. Special toothbrushes for interdental spaces
Implants are a solution that is always individually matched to the condition of the patient’s gums and other teeth. This means that in some cases, the implant does not differ in appearance from healthy teeth, in other cases, the spaces between the implants are visible. This is more often the case with posterior teeth, where the gum line is lowered and a longer period of time has elapsed between extraction and implantation.
If there is space between the gums and the crown, it requires special hygiene to avoid the formation of tartar.
There are special toothbrushes available on the market, which, thanks to their shape and workmanship, allow effective access to the space between implants. The head of such a toothbrush has an elongated shape, additionally it is usually flexible (it can be bent). Various sizes are also available (different diameter of the flexible wire on which the bristles are fixed), as well as variants with a longer or shorter “handle” for convenient handling between teeth.
A multitude of variants of such toothbrushes will allow each patient to adjust the best toothbrush to his or her needs. And where to find them? Luckily, they are so popular that you can buy them in many stores, among others, toothbrushes, although the choice in the pharmacy will probably be greater.
3. Dental floss
Yes, many will be surprised that implants, just like healthy teeth, should be flossed. As mentioned earlier, taking care to avoid placing tartar on the crown of the implant is one of the key elements of oral hygiene. However, the flossing of implants should be used more carefully than in the case of an ordinary tooth.
It is important that the floss does not descend significantly under the gum line, so that the implant is not discovered. Additionally, when the upper parts of the implant crown (or bridge on the implants) adhere to each other without leaving any gaps, it will be necessary to insert and remove the dental floss through the gap without removing it from the top.
4. Irrigators / watter flossers
Irrigator is a great device, which should be used not only in the case of implant hygiene, but also to take care of normal, living teeth. The device produces a narrow stream of water under considerable pressure, which enters the spaces between the teeth and gums, taking care to rinse out any remaining food and reducing dental plaque.
While flossing is mainly used to eliminate tartar, the irrigator is a convenient, simple tool to rinse food residues and reduce the amount of bacteria around the teeth and on the gums.
There are many varieties of this equipment on the market. There are stationary irrigators available (WATERPIK brand is often recommended by specialists), there are also mobile variants, battery-operated, which are especially useful during travels or outside the domains.
The irrigator can be used with normal lukewarm water, water solution with rinsing liquid, or by adding special fluids recommended by the manufacturer.
Irrigators are effective, easy to use and safe enough, with many dentists surgeons recommending their use after implant treatment.
5. Rinsing fluids
Rinse fluids have one main purpose – to reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth. Therefore, their use should be a habit, especially before going to bed, also for people with implants.
What is the recommended rinse liquid? In the post-implantation period it is advisable to use a liquid with a suitable chlorhexidine solution. Afterwards, a regular one, available in supermarkets, is enough. Try to choose non-alcoholic rinsing liquids.
6. Check-up visits
The majority of specialists recommend visiting check-ups every 6 months, which is particularly important in the first period after implant treatment. The specialist will be able to assess the condition of the gums, crowns and fixings. He will also advise us on oral hygiene.
It is also important to control implants after changes in our “architecture” of the dentition, i.e. when we treat other teeth or fix crowns and our occlusion is modified.
7. Appropriate diet
In the case of dietary recommendations, it is advisable to use all the elements that are recommended for the health of the entire oral cavity. This means that we should take care to limit the consumption of sugars and provide adequate amounts of vitamins, including calcium.
Splitting hard nuts with implants will not be the best idea. Anyway, doing this even with your teeth alive can be reckless.
What is very important, however, is that the tissues around the implants need to be stimulated. This means that we should not avoid chewing the food with the part in which the implants are attached. We should try to use them as normal teeth, with caution in the case of hard foods.
Reducing smoking of cigarettes and stimulants
Although doctors do not refuse treatment and do not condemn people who smoke cigarettes, smoking every day can certainly be one of the reasons for the failure of the treatment.
Cigarettes should be given up especially during the healing period after implantation.
Frequent smoking can cause gum weakness and more frequent inflammation, so if you want to eliminate the risk, it is advisable to reduce smoking or quit completely.
As the above list shows, the proper care of dental implants in many cases does not differ significantly from the care of usually living teeth. However, it is worth to get to know all the possibilities, so that the implantological treatment, which is not the cheapest, is permanent and our smile is complete.