Dental implants are becoming an increasingly popular choice for those who have lost, or are faced with losing, one or more teeth. Made from titanium and porcelain and fitted directly into your jawbone, a dental implant is a permanent and secure replacement for your missing tooth.
“Implants have changed the lives of many of my patients,” says Dr James Main, a Glastonbury-based dentist who has fitted over 800 implants. “Most patients are surprised to discover how easy fitting dental implants are. They look and feel more natural and durable, and very easy to care for.”
Your dentist will explain what to expect after your dental implant procedure, and give you full aftercare instructions. If you are a smoker, you will most likely be advised to discontinue smoking before you have your new implant fitted, as smoking significantly reduces healing. In addition, the risk of implant failure in smokers is much higher than for non-smokers.
Once your dental implant is in place and your gums have fully healed, your implant should be cleaned in the same way as a natural tooth, once a day, with normal toothpaste. Remember to clean your new tooth both above and below the gumline, and pay particular attention to keeping the area around the neighbouring teeth clean.
Using unwaxed dental floss will help clean around your teeth and protect the gum area. A soft, nylon-coated interdental brush can also clean any tight or hard-to-reach areas, and minimise the chance of scratching the implant.
It’s important to take time to ensure the areas around your dental implant are properly clean, even if this takes a little longer. If they are not cleaned properly every day, calculus and plaque can build up, which may lead to infections. Yet if properly cared for, dental implants can last a lifetime.
Regular dental check-ups and visits to the dental hygienist are another an important part of dental implant aftercare. Your dentist will check that your implant remains secure and in the correct position, and your dental hygienist can help you keep your implant clean.
Dr Main says: “Implants have a very high success rate, but good oral health care following the procedure is crucial. Your dentist should ask to see you more frequently for the first few months after your treatment to check that they are secure, and healing well. After that, your dental check-ups should be as normal.”