Unfortunately, it is a very common misconception amongst most of us that once you get your tooth or teeth removed and replaced by an artificial restoration, you no longer need to clean it. This includes:
- a crown or bridge,
- denture or implant.
This is a very bad mistake to think this way. Artificial tooth replacements need to be cleaned as much as natural teeth, if not more so. Which is why we offer you this guide on how to clean dental implants properly.
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How to clean dental implants guide
Dental implants are by far the most successful way to replace missing and lost teeth. The success rates are well over 95% over the course of 10 years. Compared to only 80% for bridges and less than 40% for dentures.
A dental implant is expected to last at least 15 years and it could even last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. Which is why you need a strategy on how to clean dental implants at home properly.
Understanding the structure of dental implants
The first thing we need to understand is the structure of dental implants and how they are placed. Implants consist of 2 main parts:
Dental implant stages
The first is the surgical phase where a small cut is placed in the gums and drills are used to make a small hole in the bone. The fixture part is placed in that hole. The cut is then closed with sutures and the bone is then left to heal for 3 to 6 months.
After that, the prosthetic phase begins where the abutment is placed and molds are taken to fabricate the artificial crown. Which is then cemented onto the abutment.
So basically, cleaning dental implants is divided into 2 parts. Taking care of implants before crowns are placed (in the healing period) and after the crowns are placed.
How to clean implants during the healing phase
The fixture is placed inside the bone and sutures are used so that the gums completely cover it. Which means there is nothing you can do to clean that part. But what you can do is take care of the gums overlying the implant.
Maintain your oral hygiene routine
Doing your usual oral hygiene routine is enough. Brushing twice daily and use floss about 3 times a week, in addition to mouthwash will certainly do the trick.
Avoid smoking at all costs
Try to avoid smoking as much as you can as it causes inflammation and infection of the gums and bones. It also compromises the healing of the latter.
If you are a diabetic or suffer any other condition that affects the strength and quality of the bone, make sure to take your medication regularly. Keep your condition controlled to keep the integrity of the implants.
Don’t eat hard or sticky foods
In some cases, the surgeon will place a plastic cap to act as a temporary crown. Especially if the implant is placed in the front region where it can be seen.
In that case, you need to take special care not to exert a lot of load on that part by staying away from sticky and hard foods and limiting yourself to a soft diet.
How to clean dental implants after surgery
So you made it through the healing phase and now the final restoration is placed, hooray!
But don’t take matters lightly. As we explained before, crowns need to be cleaned and maintained as much as natural teeth. Although they don’t decay and there is no chance of pain, they do trap food just as much as natural teeth and even more so if the surface becomes rough. Which will happen naturally over time.
The situation is even more dangerous because even if a problem arises, you would feel nothing and therefore would think that no intervention is necessary. Which is why it is better to be safe than sorry, and clean your crowns regularly.
Keep brushing and flossing your dental implants
Back to basics is key.
Brushing and flossing is your regular oral hygiene regimen and mouthwash is highly recommended under the guidance of your dentist. Brushing is easy but flossing may present some problems especially if more than one implant is placed with a bridge between them.
How to clean your dental implants with floss
This means there is no way for the string floss to pass through the hard crowns. In that case, other flossing methods can be used such as interdental brushes, floss threaders, and of course (our favorite) water flossers.
Visit your dentist regularly
This is actually the most important piece of advice.
You can probably see and therefore control what is right in front of you. Meaning the crown and the gums, but you have no control whatsoever on what goes on beneath the surface of the bone, meaning the fixture.
So a regular visit to the dentist for a quick check-up and a few x-rays is crucial to the survival and longevity of your implants.
Now you know how to clean full dental implants
Long story short, taking care of implants (or any other artificial restoration for that matter) doesn’t differ much from taking care of natural teeth. This is because the same problems that could affect natural teeth could also happen to dental implants and crowns (except for decay of course).
So the next time you start wondering how to clean dental implants, just think of what you would do to keep your natural teeth clean, and do just that!