The Role of Oral Hygiene in Preventing Dental Implant Infection

dental implant infection

Dental implants are a durable and reliable way of replacing missing teeth, but they’re not without their risks and complications. One of these risks and complaints is dental implants infection. Hence, the question “Can dental implants get infected?” is a valid question to ask if you’re planning to get implants.

Fortunately, the incidence of implant infection is quite low as compared to the success rate — only 4-10% of the implants develop infections after surgery, while 90-95% of implants remain successful without any complications. Now, there are several factors that could lead to infection in the 4-10% implant cases that we’ve just referred to. One of these factors is poor oral hygiene! This means that it’s extremely crucial for you to maintain your oral hygiene if you want to steer clear of infections and ensure the success of your teeth replacement options.

In this blog, we will see how oral hygiene prevents dental implants infection, along with details on the best practices for optimal hygiene for implant recipients.

Understanding Dental Implant Infections: Definition, Symptoms, And Types 

Before exploring how good oral hygiene can prevent dental implants infection, let’s first have a grasp of what dental implants infections are.

What Is A Dental Implant Infection?

Dental implant infection basically refers to a condition where an inflammatory response is triggered in the area surrounding a dental implant. Due to this inflammation, the area surrounding the implant (which includes both soft gum tissue as well as bone tissue) becomes swollen and painful, with gum bleeding occurring in serious cases. Other possible symptoms of implant infection include fever, foul taste in the mouth, difficulty chewing, implant loosening, etc., highlighting the importance of proper care and maintenance across different types of dental implants to prevent such complications.

What Are The Types Of Dental Implant Infection?

Although dental implant infections can be caused by various different reasons (including poor oral hygiene), they can be categorized into the following 2 types based on the symptoms:

  • Peri-Implantitis: it’s characterised by pain and swelling in the soft tissues surrounding the implants, along with noticeable bone loss. It may be caused by poor oral hygiene, incorrect implant placement, smoking, gum disease, etc. It can lead to implant failure if left untreated.
  • Peri-Implant Mucositis: it’s characterized by redness, pain, and swelling in the soft tissues surrounding the implants without any noticeable bone loss. It may result from poor oral hygiene, bacterial colonization, etc. The inflammation in this type of infection is reversible (if caught and treated early).

Note that poor oral hygiene is a ‘common’ causal factor in both peri-implantitis and peri-implant mucositis, and you can prevent both of these infections by maintaining your oral hygiene and keeping your implants clean.

How Good Oral Hygiene Can Prevent Implant Infection 

As we’ve just mentioned, maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the ways to prevent implant infection. But you shouldn’t take this statement at face value; you should rather understand exactly how oral hygiene plays a part in preventing dental implant infections. The following are the ways that good oral hygiene acts as a shield against implant infections:

It Keeps Harmful Bacteria In Control

Your oral cavity is full of natural bacteria, some of which are healthy (essential for regulating your normal oral functions) and some of which are harmful (causing decay and infections). The only way you can take control of the harmful bacteria (without disturbing your mouth’s healthy microbiome) is by maintaining your oral hygiene. 

By properly brushing, flossing, and using oral hygiene products, you keep your oral cavity free from plaque accumulation and food impaction around your implants. This prevents bacterial colonization around your implants, which will ultimately prevent implant infections from developing.

It Keeps Your Gums In Pristine Health 

Your gums act as the primary support and protection for your implants, so it’s important for them to be healthy and strong. Unhealthy and weak gums have a greater risk of developing periodontitis , which is a very common precursor to peri-implantitis (implant infection that we discussed earlier in the blog). 

By following consistent oral care habits, especially flossing and brushing, you can keep plaque and bacteria from raiding your gums. This diminishes your chances of developing gum disease, which in turn reduces the chances of implant infection. 

It Helps Preserve Jawbone

One of the most important prerequisites for successful implant treatment is a healthy (in terms of quality and quantity) jawbone. It’s so because a healthy jawbone allows the implants to easily fuse with the surrounding bone – a process known as osseointegration – which is essential for implant retention and functionality. Failure of osseointegration due to low-quality jawbone, on the other hand, would lead to the loosening of implants, which would irritate the gums and ultimately cause infection. 

By maintaining good oral hygiene you can escape this whole reactionary cycle (which starts from an unhealthy jawbone and culminates into infection) from occurring – as good oral hygiene helps preserve your jawbone by minimising gum inflammation and associated bone loss.

Important Oral Hygiene Practices For Healthy Implants

All this while we’ve talked about ‘how’ maintaining oral hygiene is essential for preventing implant infections, but the real question is ‘what’ is the way to achieve and maintain optimal oral hygiene? This leads us to discuss the essential oral care practices for maintaining oral hygiene, which are as follows:

  • Proper Brushing: Brush at least two times a day using a gentle, soft-bristled toothbrush, keeping your toothbrush angled at a 45° angle to your teeth. Make sure to brush on and around your implants, covering all the areas that can be reached with your toothbrush.
  • Flossing: Use a good quality floss, thread it into a floss threader and run it through the space between your dentures and implants after every meal. Make sure that the floss reaches all the tiny spaces and crevices so you can clear up all the hidden plaque and food particles.
  • Using A Mouthwash: Use an antibacterial/antimicrobial mouthwash to achieve added protection from bacterial infections. It will also keep your mouth fresh and odor-free.
  • Water-Flossing: If you’re uncomfortable with traditional flossing, use a water flosser to get rid of plaque and food stuck between your teeth and around your implants. The gentle water streams emitting from this device will easily reach all the way to the implants without any pain or discomfort.
  • Professional Cleanings: Visit your dentist every 6 months to get any necessary professional dental cleanings, such as scaling (to remove hardened plaque), etc.

Conclusion 

Good oral hygiene habits include proper brushing, flossing, using mouthwash, and getting professional cleanings. Being consistent with these habits keeps your mouth free of plaque and harmful bacteria (which leads to infection-causing conditions in your mouth), thereby preventing implant infections.

However, besides poor oral hygiene, there’s a few other causes of infected implants (such as improper implant placement), which can only be escaped if you choose an expert surgeon for your implant treatment. Seattle Implant Clinic, located in, Seattle, Washington, has a team of expert implant surgeons with a track record of performing 1000s of successful implant treatments. Get a FREE consultation with us today, and be next in line to get a successful dental transformation.

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