Living with missing teeth can be extraordinarily difficult, which is why many patients today turn to dental implants to restore form and function to their smiles. After having dental surgery, it only makes sense to find out how to protect your investment. Here are three easy ways to make your dental implants last.
1. Continue to Focus on Oral Health
Although dental implants aren't susceptible to problems like tooth decay and cavities, your remaining natural teeth are, so don't neglect your at-home oral hygiene routine. In addition to brushing at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, dental implant recipients should also focus on flossing all the way around each implant post.
Instead of simply sliding dental floss between the contacts on the left and right side of the tooth, wrap dental floss all the way around the implanted tooth and rock it gently back and forth until it is around the implant post. Flossing this way helps to eliminate bacteria and food particles that may be stuck around the post, which helps to prevent gum inflammation and infection.
Also, avoid excessive drinking and smoking, as both habits can cause problems with dental implant osseointegration. Drinking can dry out the mouth and make it more difficult for sores to heal, while smoking can cause blood flow problems that lead to serious complications.
You also need to keep routine dental appointments to have your implants checked, because dentists need to react quickly to changes that may occur with your implant locations.
2. Consider a Mouth Guard
Mouth guards aren't just for professional athletes. If you tend to clench your jaw or grind your teeth, that impact could harm your new dental implant. In addition to making it harder for your teeth to heal, clenching and grinding can cause tooth chips and fractures, even to artificial porcelain crowns.
Fortunately, mouth guards can be customized especially for your smile to help you to prevent damage. After taking either a physical or digital mold of your teeth, dentists can send the information to the lab, where technicians will design a mouth guard that fits your bite perfectly.
While night guards work well for people with clenching and grinding problems, athletic mouth guards are perfect for anyone who engages in activities where the mouth could be subjected to trauma, such as playing contact sports, skiing, or wrestling.
Since dental implants don't rely on additional support from your neighboring teeth, they won't interfere with mouth guard use. If you wear a mouth guard, bring it with you during routine appointments so that dentists can check to make sure it continues to fit and protect your teeth.
3. Notify Your Dentist If Your Health Changes
It's nearly impossible to stay healthy one hundred percent of the time, and certain illnesses can spell trouble for dental implants. For instance, simple conditions like allergies can cause you to take medications that reduce salivary flow, which can impact dental implant healing.
Pregnancy or oral cancer can also cause tumors to grow that disrupt the implant location, which is why you must notify your dentist anytime your health changes. During routine checkups, talk with your dentist about your health. Although it might not seem directly related to your oral health, a healthy body paves the way for comfortable, functional dental implants that last.
Whether you are thinking about dental implants or you had them installed recently, our dentist, Dr. Jeffrey S. Mika, D.D.S., can help you along the way. With more than 20 years worth of experience, Dr. Mika can answer your dental implant question and talk with you about which treatments would work best for your smile. Give our office a call today to learn more.