Biocompatible dental implants are the gold standard for replacing missing or damaged teeth. Advancements in dental implant materials and techniques ensure implant restorations look and function just like your natural teeth and last a lifetime.
But there is a catch…
You MUST take care of your implants.
While an implant is impervious to cavities, there’s something much more dangerous to watch out for: Peri-implantitis.
As the most common form of gum disease affecting dental implants, peri-implantitis is no joke. But many dental implant patients have never even been told about this risk, let alone how to avoid it.
This just isn’t right.
Keep reading as we uncover the truth about dental implants and gum disease.
First things first: what is a dental implant?
If you have one or more missing teeth, dental implants offer the best option for restoring the beauty, function, and the health of your smile. They are as close as you can get to a brand new tooth.
Dr. Blodgett always recommends zirconia implants. Unlike traditional titanium implants, zirconia dental implants have no risk of corrosion. Plus, they are white in color (rather than metal) which offers obvious esthetic advantages, as well.
Whether you have a zirconia or titanium implant, it consists of 3 basic parts:
- Implant – This is the new “root” of your tooth. Made from a biocompatible material (either zirconia or titanium), the implant insures strong and healthy bone tissue, ensuring your new tooth is durable and sturdy.
- Abutment – The abutment connect your implant to your final restoration, which is typically a crown, bridge, or implant-supported denture.
- Restoration – Finally, this is the part of your implant that you’ll see on a daily basis and looks like your natural teeth.
When does a dental implant make sense?
Most people immediately think of implants as a solution to missing teeth. And they are! Whether your tooth is missing due to decay and disease or you’ve been injured and lost the tooth in an accident, dental implants are the go-to solution.
However, there’s another important scenario where dental implants should be considered: as an alternative to root canal therapy.
Root canals are one of the most common dental treatments and involve a dentist hollowing out the root your dead tooth. There’s a really big problem with this though — the dead tooth stays in your mouth! It’s simply mind boggling!
This dead organ traps bacteria, causing a constant and devastating strain on your immune system. We recommend watching the new movie, Root Cause, to learn more about this crazy accepted treatment. Watch a trailer for the movie here.
We always advise against a root canal. A dental implant is a MUCH safer and healthier alternative.
What about dentures?
Adhesive dentures are another common solution to missing teeth. Dentures are false, removable teeth that are meant to help you chew, speak, and smile normally. However, there are a lot of drawbacks to this type of restoration.
Under the surface, the roots of your teeth are doing a lot of work to keep your jaw bone healthy and stable. It’s a similar concept to the roots of a tree along a shoreline. The roots help protect against erosion and keep the shorebank from collapsing.
Similarly, your tooth roots support and strengthen your jaw bone. When a tooth is missing, there’s nothing left to keep it from disintegrating. This process is known as resorption, and can lead to a sunken face look and other issues.
This is the problem with adhesive dentures — they simply rest on top of your gums and provide no stable foundation. Other drawbacks include…
- Changes in how eat and speak
- Dentures look fake and may make you feel self-conscious about how you look
- Can feel uncomfortable
If you’re interested in dentures, look to Implant-supported dentures as a good alternative. This type of restoration…
- Is rock solid and stable
- Allows you to eat and speak naturally
- Can be brushed like natural teeth
- Look like natural teeth
Up close and personal with peri-implantitis
Now that you understand the when and why of dental implants, let’s discuss the one dental implant risk factor you must always keep in mind: peri-implantitis.
Research suggests that the majority of people who get an implant may eventually be affected by gum disease. Peri-implantitis occurs when bacteria builds up and affects gum tissue and bone surrounding your implant. Not only can this cause painful symptoms like bleeding and swelling, you may also notice chronic bad breath.
Another common side effect? Gum recession.
As bacteria starts gnawing away at your gums, your tissue will start to recede, exposing the roots of your teeth and making your teeth appear longer.
As you can imagine, your gums will eventually recede to a point where your implant is no longer fully supported. In combination with the unhealthy gums and bones, this will eventually cause the implant to fail completely. To replace the implant, you’ll likely first need a bone graft to create a healthy and stable foundation.
Prevention is key
Before getting a dental implant, every dentist should educate you on the dangers of developing peri-implantitis and thus the importance of taking excellent care of your teeth and gums to prevent disease and gum recession.
Here are the 4 dental hygiene habits you must adopt to prevent gum disease and keep gum recession from pulling back all the work of your dental implants:
- Eat a healthy diet & stop smoking/vaping/juuling – Aim to maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth and thus minimizing bacteria growth) by eating foods high in antioxidants and low in sugar/acid. This includes avoiding smoking of any kind!
- Brush and floss – Keep up with your brushing and flossing habits. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and be gentle!
- Visit your dentist regularly – Your twice-a-year dental checkups and cleanings removes any tartar and plaque buildup and allows your dentist to spot the earliest stages of infection and recession.
- Consider Perio Protect – At Blodgett Dental Care, we proudly offer Perio Protect as a preventive at-home gum disease preventive treatment. Stop bacteria in its tracks!
Can you treat peri-implantitis and its symptoms?
So what happens if despite your best efforts, you’re currently suffering from peri-implantitis and dealing with gum recession? Don’t panic. There are magical treatment options available! What’s important is that you act fast.
Traditional gum disease and gum recession treatments involve painful and invasive surgery involving stitches and lengthy recovery times. These treatments aren’t particularly well-suited for peri-implantitis. The surgery uses a scalpel to remove and/or relocate gum tissue, which isn’t good news for your implant, which relies on the support of healthy gum tissues to survive.
To combat recession, we offer the state-of-the-art Pinhole Surgical Technique. With this procedure, Dr. Blodgett uses specially-designed and minimally-invasive instruments to gently loosen your gum tissue and slide it back over the exposed root structure or implant.
It’s fast, no tissue grafting required, and comes with very minimal discomfort. A truly amazing procedure!
Dr. Blodgett can also help combat gum disease and encourage healthier gums through specially-designed lasers. This comfortable procedure attacks and destroy infected tissue without harming healthy gum tissue.
Here when you need us
If you’re considering dental implants or have one or more dental implants and are worried about the health of your gums, make sure you understand how to protect your mouth and what’s possible for fighting gum disease and gum recession.
Talk to Dr. Blodgett about how to prevent or treat peri-implantitis and its effects. Contact us today for more information.