Dental implants are a permanent way to replace missing teeth in the mouth. Although they may sound maintenance-free—since they are not made of bone—they are not. In fact, in order to maintain your new dental implants you must practice a high-level of oral hygiene.
If you don't know how to properly care for your dental implants, use these four tips to help you get started:
1. Brush Daily
Like natural teeth, your implants require daily brushings. Depending on the condition of your mouth, your dentist may suggest you use an electric toothbrush—because they are often better at cleaning the small crevices in your mouth.
In addition to using a powered toothbrush, you may also need to use an interproximal toothbrush. An interproximal toothbrush is a specialized brush that is small enough to fit into the small gaps in between the teeth. Although they do not replace flossing, they do help keep the area surrounding the implant healthy and clean.
As you might have guessed, you should brush your implant as you would your natural teeth. So brush at least two times per day, for two minutes each time. If you do not know how to brush your teeth properly, ask your dental hygienist to show you.
2. Floss and Use Oral Irrigation Systems
Make sure you floss at least once per day—although two is better. Use whatever floss you are comfortable with using and make sure you floss around every tooth in your mouth, especially the ones surrounding your dental implant.
In addition to flossing, your dentist may recommend that you use an oral irrigation system. These systems, such as water picks, use a small stream of water to remove plaque and bacteria around the teeth. Use these systems at least once per day—usually at night—to keep your gums and teeth healthy.
3. Use Appropriate Toothpastes
While your brush, make sure you are using a toothpaste that is safe for your implant. Although most toothpastes are fine to use—even the ones with fluoride—some can damage the implant. Stay away from toothpastes with excessive abrasives, such as baking soda. You may also want to avoid toothpastes with whitening agents and stain removers, as these can cause issues with the acrylic on the implant.
4. Rinse with Approved Mouthwashes
Nearly all commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol, which is what gives the fresh feeling. Those with implants should avoid these mouthwashes, as they can leave the mouth dry—which causes increased bacteria in the mouth.
If you have a dental implant, use an alcohol-free mouthwash. Although it won't provide that "fresh breath" feeling, it will still clean your mouth.
By using these tips, along with regular visits to your dentist, you can ensure that your dental implants last a lifetime.