Replacing missing teeth with dental implants is the closest you can get to a natural smile and bite function. Since dental implants contain artificial materials like titanium and zirconium, they can’t develop decay or cavities like your natural teeth.
However, that doesn’t mean that you rest your oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene encourages plaque and tartar buildup around the implant, which makes you susceptible to numerous complications. This article looks at how dental plaque forms and how it can affect your dental implants.
Dental plaque is a thin, sticky, clear film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and around the gums. Dry plaque is composed of 70% bacteria and 30% glycoproteins and polysaccharides. Sometimes plaque can also be referred to as oral biofilm, dental plaque biofilm, bacterial plaque biofilm, and microbial plaque.
Plaque mainly forms in the presence of bacteria and water. Your mouth naturally contains millions of bacteria, which are harmless in perfect balance. However, these bacteria can rapidly multiply and overgrow out of balance due to poor diet, smoking, underlying health conditions like diabetes, and poor oral hygiene.
If not properly eliminated with proper flossing and brushing, bacteria mixes with saliva and food debris, leading to plaque buildup on the teeth and around the implant. If left unclean for a long time, plaque hardens into dental tartar or calculus. It happens due to the presence of minerals in the saliva.
Once it has developed, tartar firmly bonds to your enamel and cannot be removed with normal brushing and flossing. They can only remove it with special tools in professional cleaning.
Dental plaque is the key risk factor for tooth decay and gum disease. When plaque accumulates in the mouth, it produces acidic waste products that gradually erode the tooth enamel and irritate the gum tissues, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
Unlike natural teeth, dental implants and other dental restorations aren’t susceptible to decay or cavities. When plaque forms around the gum line, it can infect the gums and lead to gum recession. When gums pull away from the implant and teeth, more plaque and tartar accumulate under the gum line, forming deeper gum pockets. If left for a long, these bacterial deposits surround the implant affecting the process of osseointegration and leading to implant failure.
Bacterial plaque and tartar around an old implant can also lead to peri-implantitis or implant mucositis. Peri-implantitis and peri-implant mucositis are serious diseases affecting the dental implant’s hard and soft tissues. Peri-mucositis is characterized by gum inflammation but can be reversed when caught and treated early. Peri-implantitis is a progressive condition that causes soft tissue inflammation and bone deterioration. Bacterial infection around the implant can cause chronic inflammation, causing an auto-immune response that causes the body to attack the alveolar bone.
Since dental implants bond with the alveolar bone in the process of osseointegration, deterioration of this bone can make the implant feel loose or even fail. Sometimes you may need surgery to treat infections around the implant or remove the implant entirely. Contact our office for dental implants near you.
A dental implant is a fairly expensive investment that you should protect. Furthermore, preventing plaque around the implant is easier than dealing with peri-implantitis and other complications. Below are practical tips for caring for your dental implants and mouth: