Congratulations on getting your dental implants. Now you can once again be proud of your radiant smile. Good oral hygiene will ensure that your investment in implants is protected as well as contributing to an overall healthy body.
You must take care of your dental implants as you would if they were your natural teeth. Brushing in the morning after you wake up eliminates morning breath and removes bacteria that have built up in the mouth overnight. Brushing in the evening before bedtime helps remove bacteria that have built up throughout the day and reduces the risk for plaque buildup and decay overnight. Many dentists encourage brushing after every meal, or anytime during the day as needed to remove food debris and bacteria. But strive to brush at least twice a day.
Since dental implants are the next best thing to natural teeth, you should treat them hygienically in the same way you would your natural teeth. That means flossing daily in addition to rigorous brushing a couple of times during the day. But how you floss is very important.
But be sure not to skimp on quality when purchasing dental floss. Inferior, weak floss has the potential to shred and get stuck between the gingiva and the implant. Floss particles that have been left behind due to shredding have been linked to cases of peri-implantitis, which could lead to loss of dentition or other complications. In addition, you should floss in a manner that we at Forest & Ray prescribe.
Why? Natural teeth attach to the bone by periodontal ligaments that surround the tooth and act as a protective barrier against invading bacteria. Dental implants, though natural-looking, lack a self-limiting process that exists in the tissues around natural teeth. Instead of being attached to the implant, the surrounding tissue creates a protective seal that can be easily broken with aggressive flossing. Ask us about a proper flossing technique with dental implants.
Alternative to Flossing: Interdental Brushes
There is a solution to the potential damage that incorrect flossing can bring about. Interdental brushes are an effective tool for preventing dental problems and an effective alternative to string flossing. Choose a brush size (typically 0.4mm to 1.5mm) that fits between your teeth comfortably without using much force. You may find you need a couple of different sizes but the best way to find out is to ask our Forest & Ray dentist or hygienists the next time you have an appointment.
- Hold the interdental brush between your thumb and forefinger.
- Gently place the brush through the gap between your teeth – don’t force the brush through the gap.
- Brush in and out of each space between your teeth.
Other benefits of interdental brushes are they are easier to use than string floss and do a better job of cleaning between the teeth. And floss may do okay on the front teeth but what about the harder to get at other teeth? Interdental brushes work better on them. Last but not least, as we age we lose manual dexterity which can make flossing a chore as it is difficult to grasp the fine thread. Most interdental brushes come with a handle for easier use.
Regardless of which you choose, dental experts recommend that you brush with your regular toothbrush first before using floss or interdental brushes as brushing first will loosen any stubborn food particles.
More Ways to Care for Your Dental Implants
Dental implants and overdentures cannot decay but your gums and supporting bone remain subject to bacterial decay, inflammation, and infection without proper dental implant care. Here are additional tips that can help prolong the life of your dental implants:
- Visit your dentist regularly for deep cleaning. Regular dental checkups and professional cleaning allow your dentist to confirm that your implants and overdentures are functioning properly, and that you are maintaining good oral health.
- Avoid abrasive cleaning products. Stiff- or hard-bristled toothbrushes, baking soda, and strong cleansers are examples of abrasive cleaning products that may permanently damage your new teeth.
- Avoid using bleach and chlorine cleansers. Oral products that contain bleach may weaken dentures and change their colour, while chlorine-based solutions can tarnish and corrode the metal parts of implants.
- Avoid chewing on hard items. Ice cubes, hard candies, and pencils are examples of items that may break your implants.
- Seek treatment for teeth grinding. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can put excess pressure on dental implants and cause lasting damage.
- Stop smoking. Smoking can weaken and inflame the gums, and can stain your new teeth.