As a patient of our Shelby Twp dental office, your smile is just as important to us during your appointments as when you’re not in a treatment chair. It is our goal to help you enjoy a healthy, confident smile both in and out of our doors.
For dental implant patients, we want to support them in their ability to properly care for their new smiles at home in order to minimize the risk for failure. And, unfortunately, implants can fail.
For example, when a thorough at-home oral hygiene routine is not followed between visits, oral bacteria can cause the gums to become red, swollen, and sore. When gums become inflamed, it signals they are under attack; the gums are no longer able to combat bacteria levels through normal immune defenses.
When bacterial infection reaches beneath the gums to the implanted portion, removing the implant may be necessary in order to treat the infection and restore good periodontal health. This is why some implant recipients are scheduled for their regular dental check-ups and cleanings every 3-4 months rather than the standard 6 month intervals.
We want to help you enjoy the benefits of your investment in dental implants throughout your life. With simple measures, you should be able to enjoy the ability to eat the foods you love comfortably and a worry-free smile for a lifetime.
Although dental implants have one of the highest of all implant-in-bone success rates, the increase in the potential for failure comes in the following forms:
• Teeth Grinding During Sleep – Not only does grinding and clenching of teeth at night put natural teeth at risk, dental implants also endure challenges. For natural teeth, grinding can cause chips, breaks, fractures, and teeth to become worn (seen as shorter teeth with straight-across tops). Just as the forces of grinding can damage natural teeth, dental implants can also be challenged, especially during the ‘healing’ process.
When implants are first placed in the jaw bone, they need a period of 4 – 6 months to heal. This is the phase when the bone is growing around the implant to secure it in place (similar to how the jaws once supported your natural tooth roots). Clenching and grinding can interfere with the healing process and may eventually lead to failure.
As a neuromuscular dentist, I have a special understanding of the intricate connections of proper bite alignment and the TMJ (jaw joints). Bite disparity can cause the jaw joints to become stressed or strained, leading to the reactions of grinding and/or clenching during sleep. We can help you protect your investment through procedures that correct an improper alignment of the bite prior to implant placement. This can also reduce your potential for developing future migraines, headaches, ear ringing, sore or popping jaw joints, and dizziness.
• Avoiding ‘Dry Mouth’ – As we age, our skin becomes less supple as the body’s efficiency in producing moisture wanes. (This is why we become more wrinkled!) Aging also takes a toil on saliva flow. The mouth becomes less efficient at producing saliva, which is the mouth’s natural rinsing agent. Saliva flow helps to move bacteria and food particles out of the mouth. When the flow isn’t as ample as necessary to do this job adequately, oral bacteria accumulate. The more bacteria in the mouth, the higher your risk for gum problems. When oral bacteria levels reach the point of causing inflammation, the levels are at an infectious point.
As mentioned prior, treating infection below the gum line may require removal of the implant. But, it’s not just aging that can lead to a too-dry mouth. The side effects of many medications can be challenging to the flow of oral moisture. Common culprits are anti-depressants, anti-histamines, pain meds, and many that treat high blood pressure.
To combat the problem, we recommend drinking plenty of filtered water throughout the day. Watch your intake of caffeine (coffee, tea, colas, chocolate) and alcohol – all drying agents to oral tissues. Chew sugarless gum between meals, which will help to stimulate saliva flow to move bacteria out of the mouth. If you take medications that have the side effect of oral dryness, ask your doctor if there is an alternative. Finally, consider using an oral rinse that’s designed to restore moisture in the mouth. (Be sure to choose one without alcohol as an ingredient!)
• Be Aware Of Smoking’s Challenges To Implants – While we hope you’ll be successful in kicking the habit, we know some patients battle this addiction for years. For those who desire dental implants, we want them to be aware of the particular challenges they face as a result.
As explained above, oral dryness can lead to a mouth that’s less efficient at moving bacteria out. The chemicals in cigarettes, cigars, and ‘chew’ all contain various degrees of these chemicals. Research on the effects of marijuana is showing similar problems to oral health. And, if you think eCigs are okay for your smile, research is showing that the moist vapor is readily absorbed by oral tissues. The chemical contents of vaping are also challenging for maintaining good oral health.
For implant patients who smoke, it is especially important to keep the mouth moist and clean. Try to minimize other elements that can be drying by adjusting meds and diet (watch caffeine and sugar content). And, of course, your intake of water can help greatly. Drink lots of unflavored water to help oral tissues stay moist and hydrated.
• Be Diligent In Keeping Your Mouth Clean – In addition to scheduled dental check-ups here, it is especially important to maintain a thorough oral hygiene routine at home. This includes twice-daily brushing (2 mins. per time) and daily flossing. If flossing is difficult, purchase an electronic water flosser. They are affordable, easy to use, and have shown to be just as effective as manual flossing. Limit sugar and carbs (which break down to simple sugars in the mouth) and read labels to watch out for foods with hidden sugar (also in the form of high fructose corn syrup). And, as emphasized earlier, keeping your mouth moist will lower bacteria levels.
• Pick Your Implant Doctor Carefully – There are many types of dental implants, each designed to accommodate specific needs and fulfill particular goals. For example, some (such as the All On 4 system) are designed to be placed in shallow bone, where bone loss is an issue. Some types support non-removable teeth and other types can support a full arch or bridge of several teeth. The choices are many!
The system that is best suited for your needs and preferences should be selected by an implant dentist who is skilled in all types, not just one or two. By selecting the right implant dentist, you are also selecting the right dentist to diagnose and place the implant system that will work best for you.
Some dentists offer a ‘bargain price’ on implants because they have taken a quick course in placing one particular brand. This can leave you with a lower potential for success and lead to less satisfactory results later on. For the best value for your investment, choose the implant dentist you trust to oversee your entire treatment – from diagnosis to placement to restoration of your final smile.
In our dental office, we provide skilled services for all needs, including all phases of dental implant treatment. We take great pride in our success rate and relish knowing that hundreds of patients we’ve help are enjoying a life of confident smiles with “their own” teeth again.
If you are interested in dental implants or any type of tooth replacement, contact us to schedule a free consultation appointment. During this time, I can make recommendations and even have our financial coordinator meet with you to discuss easy payment plans (some that are interest-free with no down payment required). Call 586-739-2155 to tap here to begin.