Dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth or loose dentures. An implant is a structure embedded into the jawbone to anchor the replacement teeth.
It is important to protect an implant from bacteria and plaque-like natural teeth. One of the leading causes of implant loss is peri-implantitis – an infection of tissues around the implants due to poor oral hygiene. And in severe cases, this infection can cause sepsis resulting in other health problems beyond the gum and teeth area.
Although it takes time for signs of deterioration to the surface, keeping the implant area clean will ensure it looks natural and functions well in the years to come. Dental implants do not require special care. As long as you keep your mouth and gums healthy, dental implants are easy to keep clean.
Here are six tips on how to clean under dental implants properly:
1. Brush your teeth twice a day
Dental implants do not develop cavities. However, food does get stuck in and around the implant area, turning into plaque and increasing your risk of infection.
Brushing your teeth twice a day is necessary. A morning routine will help eliminate bacteria or germs accumulated overnight while brushing in the evening kills the germ build-up during the day.
Use a non-abrasive toothpaste and a soft-bristle toothbrush to gently brush along the gum line and under the implant area. These spots are prime areas where tartar easily collects and forms plaque over time. You can also use an angle-necked toothbrush or an inter-brush with a thin head to brush under and around dental implants.
2. Master the right brushing technique
Many people brush their teeth in a back and forth motion. This is an ineffective and damaging way to brush your teeth. Since you are only using a sawing motion, you will miss the spaces between and along the gumline where food particles collect.
Using the right method can ensure you cover all areas and help remove build-up. Start by placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle where the teeth meet the gums. Then, gently move your toothbrush up and down in short, tooth-wide strokes. Be extra gentle around the implant area to prevent unnecessary wear and tear.
Doing this will minimize food debris trapped under and along the base of your dental implants. Switching over to a new brushing method can take some getting used to. But, it is well worth the effort to keep your implants in excellent condition.
3. Floss your teeth
Many dentists recommend water flossers because rough flossing can cause the gum to bleed. Also known as a dental water jet, a water flosser can easily accommodate sensitive gums. It is also one of the best home solutions to effectively clean hard-to-reach areas of your implants.
Water flossers dislodge food particles and bacteria by adjusting water pressure to blow away debris. Simply angle the nozzle towards the direction of your teeth and target it towards the areas you want to clean. To ensure things do not get too messy, we recommend using a water flosser first before you brush your teeth.
Alternatively, you can also use bridge floss specially designed to scrub under and around dental implants. Also known as super floss, it has stiff ends with a fuzzy middle to gently clean the surface of your implant and the replacement teeth around the gum line area.
Unlike water flossers, you can use this type of floss after brushing with toothpaste residue in your mouth. This way, you can distribute the fluoride in your toothpaste around the implant to prevent bacterial growth.
4. Rinse with mouthwash
Another at-home tool you can have to keep your implants healthy is to use mouthwash. Using an antibacterial mouthwash to rinse away germs and bacteria after brushing your teeth is an important part of your daily oral routine. Mouthwash can also prevent your dental implants from getting discoloured over time.
Use a non-alcohol mouthwash twice a day to complement your brush and floss routine. The liquid consistency makes it easier to get in between and under your dental implant in a gentler way than your toothbrush would.
We recommend using mouthwash after your implants have healed completely and consulting with your oral surgeon for suggested brands suitable for your dental implants.
5. Schedule an appointment with dentists.
Routine oral appointments are also an important step when taking care of your dental implants. For the most part, caring for your dental implants can be done at home. However, there are benefits to scheduling a professional dental implant cleaning.
Your hygienist will help you clean the implant surface above the gum and the surrounding tissue during your appointment. Typically, specialists may use scaling to remove tartar and plaque build-up below the gum line.