Caring for Dental Implants Properly
Yes, you got the dental implants that helped give you a beautiful smile and improved your quality of life…Now, you may ask yourself: “What does caring for dental implants look like? Do my implants need maintenance? Should I know how clean permanent implant dentures?” Similar to the natural teeth, dental implant care and maintenance requires adequate home and professional care to support the long-term success of dental implants. By caring for dental implants, adhering to the appropriate hygiene routine, regular dental checkups, healthy diet and lifestyle, individuals can enjoy the benefits of dental implants for many years. In this article, we will review the basics of dental implant care and maintenance, including the immediate post-op care and long-term care of dental implants.
After the Dental Implant Surgery
Caring for dental implants starts after your initial implant treatment. You can expect minor bleeding, discomfort and swelling that usually peaks 48 to 72 hours after your procedure. Some may experience bruising and pain. To optimize healing, you want to avoid eating hard, sticky food, take prescribed medications, and rinse your mouth as instructed by your doctor. Ice packs will help reduce swelling. You should avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting. You should also avoid smoking, alcohol, and other substance use.
The immediate post-op dental implant care and maintenance can vary depending on the extent of the implant procedure and the type of prostheses you will receive. A set of temporary teeth are often necessary to help transition you to your final implant set of teeth. Your doctor will review with you the immediate aftercare, healing time specific to your treatment, and explain how to clean permanent implant dentures.
How do I care for my final implant teeth?
Congratulations on getting your final set of teeth and smile! Is caring for dental implants different from my natural teeth? The answer is “Yes and No”. Similar to your natural teeth, you want to brush your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristle toothbrush with a non-abrasive toothpaste and floss daily. An alcohol-free mouthwash is also recommended for daily use. Regular dental checkups and hygiene visits are also an important part of dental implant care and maintenance and essential for the longevity of your dental implants. Your doctor will recommend how often you should be seen based on your hygiene and type of implant teeth. If you have trouble cleaning, your doctor may see you more frequently.
Depending on the type and material of your implant teeth, your doctor will review how to clean permanent implant dentures and explain to you the specific maintenance care needed. Here we will highlight some differences in the maintenance of different final implant prostheses.
Implant Supported fixed full-arch teeth
Implant fixed teeth look and function close to your natural teeth. You do not take the teeth out and you brush them just like you would with your natural teeth. Water flossers or regular floss with floss threaders are the main hygiene tools to keep your teeth clean. You will floss between the prosthesis and your gum. You may also find additional helpful hygiene tools, such as cone-shaped small brushes with different angulations, which may help get into small spaces and hard-to-reach areas.
Implant Assisted Overdentures
Implant overdentures done on the lower jaw stay significantly better compared to regular lower dentures without implants. It is a good alternative solution when fixed implant teeth cannot be done for various reasons. You should take out the overdenture after eating, and when you go to sleep at night. Soak the denture in a glass of water or denture cleansing solution overnight. It is recommended to brush around the implant locators in the mouth and the denture itself. You want to avoid toothpaste and only use water for dentures, as toothpaste can wear down the denture material faster. The snap on rubber buttons should be replaced periodically by your doctor to keep the denture retentive. Overtime, the denture may need to be resurfaced or remade after continuing tissue and bone loss. Staining and wear are also more significant for acrylic (plastic) denture teeth material compared to all-ceramic (Zirconia) teeth materials used for fixed implant teeth. Habits such as rinsing after drinking coffee/tea with water helps reduce stain buildup.
Single Implant tooth or Short-span Implant Bridge
They replace one or more of your teeth. They look and function similar to your natural teeth. You take care of them very similar to natural teeth. You can floss regularly for a single implant tooth. Cleaning an implant bridge is similar to a natural-tooth bridge – superfloss or regular floss with a floss threader allows you to go under the connected teeth to clean.
Although smoking is not an absolute contraindication to receiving dental implant treatment, it does put you at higher risk of implant complications and failures compared to non-smokers. Smoking has many detrimental health consequences. We encourage you to work with your doctor and support system to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Parafunctional Habits and Mouthguard
Implants are anchored in your bone and are very strong, but they are still susceptible to trauma and problems similar to natural teeth. You want to avoid habits that can harm your implant teeth, such as using your teeth as bottle openers. You should wear proper headgear and mouthguard when recommended to minimize the risk of dental injuries in sports. If you grind your teeth at night, a custom-made night guard by your doctor is a must to protect your implant teeth.
At ClearChoice, we aim to help you achieve optimal dental health and are committed to improving the lives of those suffering with failing teeth by providing the best care possible to transform your life in a positive, meaningful way. If you have additional questions about caring for dental implants or want to learn more about permanent teeth replacement options, schedule a free consultation at your local ClearChoice center today.
By Jie Sun, DDM, MS
Prosthodontist, ClearChoice Quincy
Dr. Jie Sun earned her DMD degree Magna Cum Laude from Harvard School of Dental Medicine. With an interest in implant therapy and complex oral rehabilitation, she completed additional three years of specialty training in Prosthodontics at Harvard with a Master of Medical Science (MMSc) degree. Dr. Sun was the recipient of the distinguished Dr. Joseph L. Henry Award for her extraordinary accomplishments in both research and clinical dentistry, and significant contributions to Harvard School of Dental Medicine. In 2022, she received the Massachusetts 10 under Ten award for her distinguished achievements in the profession and to her communities.