There can be little disagreement that dental implants are one of the most effective ways for someone to replace missing, damaged, or decayed teeth, in order to return their smile to its former state and to give that person renewed confidence. Dental implants also have other benefits such as looking like natural teeth and the fact that they are extremely durable.
However, whilst they may be durable, that does not mean that they are indestructible. Dentists advise all dental implant patients that they must take care of them. Sadly, it is often because a patient was somewhat remiss in their oral hygiene that the need for dental implants became necessary to replace their decayed teeth, but nevertheless, their mindset must be to follow the oral hygiene advice we give them for their dental implants.
In order to explain why it is so important, it would be helpful if we explained the construction of dental implants and how their relationship with the jawbone and gums makes oral hygiene so imperative. The dental implants that most modern dentists use have titanium posts that are embedded into a patient’s jawbone. In time the jawbone’s attachment to these titanium posts becomes stronger and this is why dental implants are the strongest and most durable teeth replacement options.
With your natural teeth, that same attachment to your jawbone would be the role of the roots of your teeth. Both might be regarded as extremely strong, but your natural tooth roots have an extremely important advantage over the titanium screws of dental implants with respect to oral health. That advantage is that they have the ability to help fight off any infections that occur.
Teeth roots have tissue that aids their attachment, and this tissue is made of collagen fibres which in turn help to protect the jawbone. Within these collagen fibres there are minuscule sized blood vessels which not only supply nutrients to your jawbone and the surrounding gum tissue, but most importantly, they can produce biologic agents that will fight bacteria and infection.
Bear in mind that it is bacteria, and in particular plague, which is the number one cause of tooth decay and gum disease, so it follows that without these anti-bacterial agents being created naturally, the need for consistent and effective oral hygiene becomes even greater.
Now, you might be thinking that as dental implants, and in particular the titanium posts that secure them are not organic in nature, they should not be prone to decay or disease. You would be perfectly correct, however, the reason for effective oral hygiene for those with dental implants is not to protect the implants themselves, but to protect their gums and their jawbone.
Both of these do have natural cells and fibres, and if bacteria were allowed to accumulate on and around them due to poor oral hygiene the risk to them is high with respect to infections and the damage these infections can do is significant.
One condition which is particularly prevalent for those who have dental implants is called peri-implantitis. Its symptoms include swollen gums and bleeding of the gums, and the number one cause of peri-implantitis is an excessive build-up of dental plaque, which you will recall is a form of bacterial infection.
So, it needs to be clear to everyone that has dental implants that they recognise they are not a free pass to avoid brushing, flossing and other forms of oral hygiene. In fact, it is every bit, if not more important, that you follow a regular and effective oral hygiene regime given that the natural defences within your mouth are diminished in order to protect your gums and jawbone.