Dental implants are the #1 dentist-recommended solution to replace missing teeth permanently. They are the only restoration option that can replace your missing or damaged tooth entirely, from root to crown.
Patients love dental implants because they are made to look, feel, and function like natural teeth. They are also low maintenance, requiring similar care to natural teeth and are not subject to decay.
However, you should take this with a grain of salt. Just because dental implants are “easy” to care for, doesn’t mean you can skip on your oral hygiene routine.
If you want to keep your dental implants for as long as possible, then you should follow our dentist, Dr. Bruno da Costa’s eight tips on how to care for a dental implant, which includes:
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush
- Use a low-abrasive toothpaste
- Floss daily with unwaxed tape or implant-specific floss
- Use a water flosser
- Use a nylon coated (no metal wire) interdental brush
- Avoid damaging habits
- Visit your dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months
Keep reading to see why you need to follow these tips and the consequences of not.
Why you need to care for your dental implant
The materials used in dental implants, most commonly titanium and ceramic or porcelain, are not subject to decay like your natural teeth are. But that doesn’t mean they cannot be harmed.
Improper care can damage the dental implant post and the crown. For example, using abrasive products can cause the post to corrode or etch away at the crown and weaken it.
Even though you cannot get a cavity on a dental implant restoration, your surrounding gum tissue is always at risk for gum disease.
Gum disease is an inflammatory infection caused by a build-up of plaque on your teeth, which enables harmful bacteria to grow below your gumline.
If left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis or peri-implantitis (as it’s called with a dental implant case). Peri-implantitis can result in:
- Bone loss
- Implant failure
- Removal of your implant
- Additional dental work
- Surrounding teeth being negatively impacted
This is why it is crucial you know how to care for a dental implant. By following our Beaverton dentist’s eight low-maintenance tips, you can ensure the longevity of your dental implant and oral health.
1. Brush your teeth twice a day
With a dental implant, you must brush all angles of your restoration, but not too hard. You don’t want your gums to recede and expose your implant post.
2. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush
To help avoid brushing too hard, we recommend using a soft-bristle toothbrush. Studies Opens in a new window to RD Magazine’s website do not show a significant difference between the effectiveness of using a sonic, electric, or manual toothbrush. So pick one that works best for you.
Bonus: Right now, we are offering all new patients a FREE Sonicare toothbrush. Click here to schedule your first appointment and claim this offer.
3. Use a low-abrasive toothpaste
Abrasive toothpaste can cause microscopic damage to your crown (and your natural teeth’s enamel). Over time, this can weaken your crown, making it more susceptible to chips or cracks.
Most often, toothpaste designed to whiten your teeth or remove stains is more abrasive than non-whitening pastes.
When buying toothpaste, look for the RDA rating Opens in a new window to Colgate’s website, which indicates how abrasive it is. Also, look for the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance Opens in a new window to the American Dental Association’s website, which does not approve toothpaste with an RDA rating over 250.
4. Floss daily with unwaxed tape or implant-specific floss
To keep your gums and implant post safe, you should use unwaxed tape floss or implant-specific floss.
Here are instructions on how to floss a dental implant:
- Loop the floss around the circumference of your dental implant post
- The floss should stick out from both sides of your crown
- Crisscross the floss in the front and move it back and forth in a gentle shoeshine movement
5. Use a water flosser
A water flosser is a great tool to reduce inflammation, bleeding, and reach hard spots. Most often, water flossing is not a substitute for traditional dental flossing. So use both steps 6 and 7 unless otherwise instructed by your dentist.
We recommend using Waterpik Water Flosser, which is the only water flosser proven safe and effective with dental implants to date.
6. Use a nylon coated (no metal wire) interdental brush
Interdental brushes also work well to clean tight and hard-to-reach areas. Make sure you brush around the circumference of your implant.
To avoid scratching your restoration, use a non-metal interdental brush.
7. Avoid damaging habits
Dental implant crowns are extremely durable, but even so, they can still chip, crack, and break.
Your dental implant will last longer if you avoid damaging habits like:
- Chewing on ice
- Chewing on pens or pencils
- Chewing on hard candies
- Not wearing a nightguard if you grind your teeth
8. Visit your dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months
What would any good oral hygiene routine be without a visit to your preferred dentist for a checkup and cleaning?
At Harmony Dental, Dr. da Costa will use these appointments to keep an eye on your gum tissue health, bone density, and condition of your restoration. Our friendly dental hygienists will perform a professional cleaning to remove any built-up plaque and keep your smile out of harm’s way.
Visiting your dentist every six months can save you time and money in the long run by taking proactive measures and intervening potential dental problems before they worsen.
How long do dental implants last?
How long your dental implant lasts will depend on how well you take care of it. It could be a few years or the rest of your life; after all, dental implants are meant to be a permanent solution!
By following these tips on how to care for a dental implant, you are doing your part to keep your restoration healthy.
If you’re looking for an implant dentist in Beaverton, OR, then visit us at Harmony Dental! Our dental team is well-known and trusted throughout the community for our friendly approach to dentistry, where we put family, integrity, and health at the forefront of what we do.
Schedule your appointment today:
Our office is conveniently located in Beaverton, OR, and proudly serves surrounding communities, including Tigard, Aloha, Portland, Cedar Hills, Lake Oswego, Raleigh Hills, Sherwood, Garden Home-Whitford, Tualatin, and West Slope.