Despite advancements in the field of dental care, many people suffer from tooth loss as a result of various causes–tooth decay and injuries are the most common causes of tooth loss.
Dental implants are prostheses used to replace a lost tooth or sets of teeth. The implants are natural-looking and a source of a great confidence boost.
The benefits of getting a dental implant include:
- It gives a natural and aesthetic appearance
- It helps improve speech
- It helps make eating easier
- It is durable and convenient
What are dental implants made of?
For many years, titanium has been a source of almost all dental implants. In recent times, different implants are being made from different materials after extensive research of their physical and chemical properties. An ideal implant material should be resistant to fractures, corrosion and, should be biocompatible–not harming nearby living tissues.
Here are the common types of materials used to make dental implants today:
- Titanium-based dental implants
These implants are made of titanium and, as mentioned, is the most common type of implants being used.
Titanium is strong, lightweight, biocompatible, and resistant to corrosion. Also, titanium implants are long-lasting and are easy to install. Titanium-based implant placements are natural-looking and are cheaper compared to Zirconia based dental implants.
- Zirconia-based dental implant materials
Zirconia based implants are a recent, promising innovation in the field of implantology. These implants are metal-free and composed of the crystal phase of zirconium (Zirconium oxide).
Zirconia implants have off-white color, which resembles natural teeth, thus patients are getting drawn to it for aesthetic reasons.
These implants are biocompatible and do not cause allergy, too. It is technically metal-free and there have been no cases of the material seeping into the bloodstream. The implants do not corrode and there are fewer chances of greyish mucosal discoloration under the gum line.
Important Tips To Follow After A Dental implant
- Maintaining good hygiene after implants is extremely important
Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential to keep your gums and teeth healthy. Oral health has been shown to impact a person’s overall health and quality of life. After having implants it is important to keep the gums healthy especially the areas surrounding the implants. In Addition, tooth and gum problems cause significant pain, may lead to tooth loss, and, consequently a loss of self-confidence. These problems can lead to impaired speech, difficulty chewing, and reduced quality of life. That’s why oral health problems are considered a global health burden by experts. Maintaining oral hygiene can help prevent these problems.
- Regular brushing with proper technique
Brushing teeth twice a day is an important method of removing plaques and accumulated bacteria, and it’ll also keep your teeth clean. However, using the correct technique is of paramount importance to make brushing effective. In addition to applying the correct technique, it’s important that the brushing is gentle as brushing aggressively can result in more harm than good. Aggressive brushing can lead to permanent damage to the gums and the protective enamel of the teeth. This means that you should also avoid brushing with toothbrushes with hard bristles.
While brushing, make small circular motions of the toothbrush, making sure it reaches every part of your teeth. You should brush for at least 2-3 minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Back and forth motions of the toothbrush should be avoided.
Experts recommend changing the toothbrush every 3 months or when the brush starts showing signs of fraying.
- Incorporating fluoride
Although implanted teeth do not need fluoride the natural teeth in your mouth will still need it. The enamel of your teeth is the hardest part of your mouth. It protects your teeth from physical, chemical, and thermal damages. Fluoride is a compound that helps harden your enamel and prevents the formation of cavities.
Fluoride is a key component of toothpaste and mouthwashes. However, not all dental products contain fluoride. Studies have shown that mouthwashes and toothpaste that do not contain fluoride are ineffective in preventing cavities. So, you must check the dental product before purchasing to ensure it is fluorinated. In many communities, especially in the United States, fluoride is added to their water supply to promote good oral health.
- Regular dental flossing
Dental flossing helps remove plaque and bacteria from areas of the tooth inaccessible to the toothbrush. It removes trapped debris and food in between your teeth, giving you fresh breath.
Dental professionals suggest gently pushing the floss up to your gum line before hugging the sides of your tooth with a gentle up and down motion to remove plaques and food particles. Gentle motion is preferred as snapping the floss up and down causes pain and won’t be effective in removing plaques. Special care must be taken especially when flossing around the implants.
- Visiting your dentist at least twice a year
Dental experts recommend that you visit your dentist at least twice a year. Your dentist will check your teeth for visual signs of cavities and gum and mouth disease, among other oral health issues. The doctor may recommend dental X-rays to check for suspected cavities or root issues. Also, the X-rays allow the dentists to rule-out any issues with the implants.
During the consultation, you can inquire as to how many visits are required as people with good oral hygiene may require fewer visits to the dentist.
After the routine dental examination, the hygienist will clean your teeth and remove any plaques. Also, you’ll be advised on how you can maintain good oral health.
You should visit your dentist if:
- Your gums are bleeding, swollen, or painful to touch.
- Your gums bleed while flossing.
- You have a severe toothache.
- Your permanent teeth or implants are becoming loose.
- Your teeth are improperly aligned.
- You have sudden increased sensitivity to hot or cold
- You are suffering from bad breath for a long time.
- You are experiencing abnormal taste in your mouth.
- The mucosa around the implant is inflamed or has changed color.
- Using mouthwashes
Though mouthwashes cannot substitute the benefits provided by brushing and flossing, they can certainly complement the results of both.
Studies have shown that mouthwashes containing an antibacterial, chlorhexidine, help control plaques and prevent gum infections. As mentioned, fluorinated mouthwashes also help keep the enamels hard and prevent cavity formation. Mouthwashes also help keep the mouth fresh by preventing bad breath.
You should consult with your dentist to know which mouthwash is suitable according to your needs.
- Quitting smoking
Smoking causes a lot of harm to your oral health. It leads to yellowish discoloration of your teeth and tongue, causes bad breath, and has been implicated in causing various gum diseases and mouth cancer.
The nicotine present in the smoke also causes delayed wound healing after a dental procedure. Hence, it’s important to avoid smoking for good oral hygiene.
- Limiting sugary foods and starches
Consumption of sugary foods has been implicated in many studies to lead to cavity formation and adverse dental health outcomes. WHO recommends the intake of sugar should be less than 10% of your daily calorie intake. Conclusions of a systematic review showed lowering sugar intake to 5% of the total calorie intake significantly reduces the risk of cavitation and other dental health issues.
You should reduce the intake of sugary foods like candies, desserts, and processed foods that contain added sugar.
In addition to sugary foods, recent studies have shown starchy foods, such as bread, chips, or pasta, also contribute to teeth cavitation. These starch-containing foods remain in the mouth and break down into simple sugars. Acid-forming bacteria present on plaques feed on these simple sugars and lead to tooth cavities.
Substituting starch-containing foods with fiber-rich fruits and vegetables can go a long way in maintaining good oral hygiene.
- Limiting intake of soft drinks
The acid present in soft beverages have been shown to dissolve minerals in the enamel and cause cavitation. Also, soft drinks are sources of added sugars, which further increase the risk of cavities.
For good oral health, experts recommend drinking plenty of water and unsweetened drinks and limiting the intake of sweetened beverages.
- Protecting teeth from injury
Don’t use your teeth to crack nuts or remove the tops of bottles as you might risk breaking your natural and implanted teeth. Only use teeth for chewing foods. Also, wearing mouthguards while playing contact sports helps prevent teeth from injury.