One of the issues that can prevent a successful dental implant is infection. While dentists do everything possible to prevent infection from occurring, bone infection caused by implants, or peri-implantitis, occurs in around 10 percent of cases, and can be found in up to 20 percent of implant patients within 10 years of receiving the implant.
Sometimes peri-implantitis has few or no symptoms until bone loss is so severe that your implant is loose. If not caught early and treated properly, this infection can mean that your dental implant will fail. Bone loss occurs because the infection prevents the bone from building around the implant during the healing process, but it can also happen when pockets form over time around the implant. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent infection. Here's how:
1. Go to an experienced dentist.
Implants that are put in by a less knowledgable practitioner may have a higher failure rate. In some cases, the bridge or crown that is attached to the implant isn't made correctly, which encourages the formation of pockets around the implant. These pockets are more likely to fill with bacteria that can cause infection.
2. Stop smoking.
Smokers have poorer rates of healing and their oral health, in general, is worse than that of the general population. Smokers have more constricted blood vessels; as well, they tend to bleed more easily and are found to have more mucosal inflammation, which may encourage infection.
3. Practice good oral health habits.
Brushing and flossing are even more important with a dental implant because the build-up of plaque, also called bio-film, can encourage infection in the small pockets that typically surround a dental implant, especially after it has initially been inserted. Your practitioner may suggest that you use a rubber pick to clean the area around the implant.
Pay close attention to how often your dentist recommends professional cleanings and checkups, and follow that recommended schedule as closely as possible.
4. Reduce stress.
Grinding your teeth is a risk factor for peri-implantitis, perhaps because the motion helps small pockets to form around the implant where bacteria can enter. Many people grind their teeth in their sleep due to sleep disorders or stress, so identifying any related issues and working to reduce their impact is important. Your dentist may be able to fit you with a device that reduces grinding as well.
If you have dental implants, you also need to watch for and get medical care for other health issues, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which can impact how well a dental implant adheres to the bone. Talk to your dental professional, like those at NYC Center for Dental Implants, for more information on implant-related infections and how to prevent them.