dental implants

A Guide to Caring for Your Dental Implants

Dental implants work and feel just like your own teeth, but these marvels of oral surgery still require the same hygiene and maintenance that you’d devote to the genuine articles. Even the most durable implants, installed by the most skilled oral surgeon, may suffer damage or even fail altogether if you neglect these dental restorations. Certain foods can chip or wear down the realistic simulated enamel, while poor hygiene can promote an implant-loosening inflammatory condition known as peri-implantitis.

Fortunately, you can boost your chances of enjoying many years of optimal chewing function and an attractive smile simply by looking after your dental implants properly. Take heed of these useful dental implant care tips.


1. Clean Your Dental Implants Regularly and Thoroughly

Although dental implants can’t develop cavities like organic teeth, they can still develop problems at the gum line. The permanent crowns that cap your implants don’t actually extend all the way to the gums, meaning that food and bacteria can find their way into tiny gaps and set the stage for gum disease.

Thankfully, you can prevent this issue by using the same basic brushing and flossing techniques that keep natural teeth healthy. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to each tooth, brushing upward or downward in a sweeping motion from the gum line to the edge of the tooth. Spend two to three minutes repeating this process for all your teeth, both natural and implanted. Follow this phase of dental hygiene with careful flossing, paying special attention to the spaces between your implants and your natural teeth (since trapped food or tartar in these spaces can promote decay of the natural enamel). If you have a four-on-one bridge that supports multiple implants, take care to floss underneath the bridge as well.


2. Choose Your Dental Hygiene Tools Wisely

Either a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush will do a good job of removing biofilm and trapped food from your dental implants. Whichever tool you select, choose one with the softest bristles you can find, along with a toothpaste low in abrasion, to protect the gums against irritation and avoid unnecessary crown wear. Because the spaces between implants can prove tricky to floss, consider investing in some super floss. Super floss uses a floss threader with a stiffened end combined with a spongy, flexible midsection and a normal length of thread at the “business end.”

If you can’t use floss easily because of manual dexterity issues, purchase a water flosser and use it every evening after brushing. This handy device can blast debris away from tight spaces. To clean out the tiny gap between the base of an implant and your gum tissue, trace this area with a rubber-tipped gum stimulator. An ADA-approved mouthwash or oral rinse can help kill any remaining bacteria.


3. Schedule Dental Checkups and Cleanings

Dental implants require a healthy mouth. Keep up your regular schedule of routine dental wellness checkups and cleaning per your dentist’s recommendations. These evaluations can detect potential concerns such as bone loss in the jaw, early gum inflammation (gingivitis), and cavities in the teeth seated next to your implants. Professional cleanings can remove built-up tartar and hard-to-reach debris that may escape even the most careful home dental hygiene practices.


4. Watch for (and Respond to) Trouble Signs

Dental implants and/or their surrounding tissues can develop infections and other problems even when they receive the best of care. The more quickly you respond to these issues by scheduling immediate dental evaluation and treatment, the better. Signs of implant-related trouble may include:

  • Loose or wobbly implants
  • Gums that bleed when you brush
  • Pus or discoloration at the gum line
  • Bad breath
  • Pain underneath an all-on-four bridge


5. Steer Clear of Potentially Damaging Foods and Habits

Right after your dental implant surgery, your oral surgeon will warn you to avoid crunchy or hard-to-chew foods, sugary items, and alcoholic beverages. These products can raise your risk for postoperative complications. Even after you’ve completely recovered from the surgery, however, you must still treat your implants with a certain amount of care.

Approach harder objects such as nuts with caution. You can eat most soft candies as long as you follow up with thorough brushing and flossing to get those damaging sugars away from your natural teeth and gums. Avoid crunching on ice (which can break your crowns) or popcorn (which can deposit hard-to-remove hulls in your gum pockets).

Bruxism (habitual, unconscious tooth grinding) can wear down the crown on your implants while also damaging your remaining natural teeth. If you show signs of this condition, ask your dental professional to recommend strategies to combat it, from stress reduction techniques to correction of bite alignment errors that might encourage tooth grinding.

Don’t smoke if you have dental implants. Smoking can directly affect your bones’ ability to remodel themselves and maintain the proper density. If you lose bone in your jaw, the metal posts that hold your implants firmly in place may loosen.

Woodview Oral Surgery can perform your dental implant surgery and help you keep your implants in good shape. Contact our clinic today with questions!.


Image credits: Photo by Wilfried Pohnke on Pixabay.

dental implants

Dental Implants: A Great Alternative to Dentures and Bridges

Maintaining a terrific smile as you age can be difficult and if teeth are not properly taken care of, they become compromised and have to be extracted. As the American College of Prosthodontics notes, approximately 178 million Americans are currently missing at least one tooth.

Historically, several civilizations have come up with some unique approaches to missing teeth including ancient Egypt, where archaeologists have discovered several examples of teeth that had dental bridges or “prosthetic appliances.”

More recently, our nation’s first President, George Washington, suffered frequent toothache and had several missing teeth and eventually had to have a partial denture fabricated from ivory and wired in place to the remaining teeth. A full set of the President’s denture is on display at Mount Vernon, the historic home of George and Martha Washington.

More recently, the dental implant has evolved to be the first choice for replacement of a missing tooth/teeth. First placed in the 1960’s the implant has developed various solutions capable of providing permanent solution to a compromised tooth or teeth. If you have lost one or more teeth, you need to understand why dental implants are the go-to option.


What Are Dental Implants?

Unlike other tooth replacement methods, implants are a more natural and permanent solution. Dental implants include an anchor, usually ceramic or titanium, placed into the jawbone. After a period of 4-6 months the implant fuses, or technically, osseointegrates with the surrounding bone, creating a solid foundation for placement of a crown or fabricated tooth.

The implant also serves as an anchor in the jaw bone. Bone loss is often associated with a missing tooth, which in turn leads to a hollow look in the cheeks since the bone tissue is no longer present and can be viewed as premature ageing. Unlike a bridge, a dental implant is able to anchor surrounding bone and avoid the bone loss that often accompanies missing teeth.

Dental implants have few if any side effects and are the nearest thing to having your real teeth back. Keep in mind that an implant can support more than one tooth. For instance, four implants can be used to support a replacement upper or lower arch or both, depending on the extent of tooth loss.. Unlike a denture, the teeth are not removable and having much greater biting power of natural teeth up to 90% according to some studies. Dentures have 20-30% biting power.


Who Should Get Dental Implants?

Dental implants are appropriate for most adults, even those of advanced age. In fact, implants can benefit the health of older patients because they eliminate the discomfort of sliding dentures and allow the patient to eat the foods they enjoy, and also make sure they get the nutrition that they need. Your oral surgeon will evaluate your medical history to determine if implants are a good choice for you. You may be a suitable implant candidate if the following are true:

  • You have enough healthy bone to hold the implants.
  • Your gums and other oral tissues are healthy.
  • You do not smoke.
  • Your jawbone has reached full growth.


What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?

For a good reason, dental implants have become the best solution compared to other tooth replacement options.

  • Implants have a look and feel more like natural teeth, including a functional capacity of 90% of natural teeth, unlike dentures that provide 10-30% function.
  • Implants have proven that with proper care, they can last a lifetime.
  • Third, the lifetime costs of an implant contrasted to a denture are very competitive as one has to consider the expenses of denture adjustments, chair-time fees to the patient for increased dental visits, and replacement costs as most dental appliances have a 5-7 year lifetime.
  • A dental implants does not need special daily care, simply floss and brush as you would natural teeth. In contrast, dentures must be removed and cleaned daily to maintain their appearance and to keep your mouth and gums healthy.
  • Finally, implants give you more confidence since they are a permanent solution that means no one will see you, night or day, without a bright and beautiful smile.


What Should You Expect from the Dental Implant Procedure?

A tooth implant is an outpatient procedure done under general anesthesia. Your surgeon may complete the implant process in several phases. After you’ve had a regular dental exam and medical assessment, your oral surgeon may need to do the following:

  • Remove a damaged tooth
  • Graft bone onto your jaw if necessary
  • Place the dental implant
  • Allow for healing
  • Place an abutment (an attachment that holds the artificial tooth in place)
  • Attach the artificial tooth

The process may require several months for your oral surgeon to complete, particularly if you need a bone graft, but an implant that is properly taken care of can last a lifetime.

Sometimes, your surgeon can complete an immediate load procedure that allows them to attach the artificial tooth immediately after placing the implant.


What Happens After the Procedure?

Most people only have minor after-effects from their implant surgery. You may experience facial and gum swelling, some bruising, pain at the surgical site, or minor bleeding. You might need to stick to soft food for a few days and take pain relievers and antibiotics.

Most dental implant surgeries are successful, with issues or infections being very rare.


How Woodview Oral Surgery Can Help

Missing and severely decayed teeth are a painful and often embarrassing problem that can affect your overall health and self-esteem. You may not want to try traditional options such as dentures, which can be uncomfortable and look unnatural. Fortunately, a skilled oral surgeon can correct your dental issues.

In the DC area, Woodview Oral Surgery offers you the latest and safest oral surgery techniques. You can regain your oral health and your confidence by booking an appointment. If you are interested in dental implants, contact us today for more information.


Image credits: Photo by Bogdan Condr on Unsplash.

All You Need to Know About Sedation Dentistry

Modern oral surgery has come a long way in its ability to provide optimal comfort for patients who must undergo invasive procedures. Unfortunately, however, many dental patients still feel anxiety whenever they must sit in the dentist’s chair, even for relatively minor dental work.

If you’ve ever had trouble remaining calm for dental appointments, or grown anxious at the prospect of major procedures such as dental implants, sedation dentistry can help you feel at ease.


Definition of Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry involves the use of sedative medications to relax dental patients and help them remain calm while undergoing everything from routine examinations and cleanings to extensive oral surgery work. The patient typically receives such medications alongside any necessary local anesthesia to ensure both relaxation and comfort. (The use of general anesthesia makes other forms of dental sedation unnecessary.)


Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry can benefit patients in a variety of scenarios. For example, children often have irrational fears of the dentist, especially if they have little to no experience in the dentist’s chair or have had a painful dental experience in the past. For this reason, sedation often plays an important role in pediatric dental care.

Patients of any age can experience dental anxiety. An underlying general sense of anxiety — or “whitecoat syndrome” that comes into play specifically in medical settings — sometimes feeds such fear. Individuals with unusually low pain thresholds or sensitive teeth may have good reason to worry about what they’ll experience during their dental procedure. Other patients may simply dislike the tedium of lengthy dental procedures and find it difficult to sit in the chair for long periods.

Sedation dentistry can prove invaluable for these patients. Although the strength and effects of sedatives used may vary, the patient ultimately feels tranquil and at ease throughout the procedure in question. By alleviating their anxiety, sedation dentistry also encourages patients to schedule dental exams and procedures as needed instead of delaying proper care.


Common Types of Dental Sedation

Dental sedation usually takes one of four primary forms. Depending on your anxiety level and/or the scale of your dental procedure, you may receive:

  • Nitrous oxide sedation: This light form of sedation uses an inhaled gas commonly referred to as “laughing gas.” Recipients breathe a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen through a face mask. The dentist adjusts the mixture as needed, with the effects wearing off relatively quickly after the procedure.
  • Oral sedation: When most people think of sedation dentistry, they envision this technique. You’ll receive an oral tranquilizer such as Valium or Halcion before your scheduled procedure, resulting in extreme grogginess.
  • IV sedation: IV sedation has the same general effect as oral sedation, but as a constant infusion through a vein rather than a pre-set dosage. This method permits the dentist to adjust the sedation level throughout the procedure.
  • General anesthesia: General anesthesia, also referred to as deep sedation, involves the use of intravenous drugs that render you completely or almost completely unconscious through your procedure. Extensive oral surgery may call for this type of sedation.


What to Expect from Sedation Dentistry

Your experience under dental sedation will vary according to the sedatives used. True to its nickname, laughing gas may make you feel giddy or giggly, although this effect fades as soon as the dentist introduces more oxygen into the mixture. Heavier drugs may induce an effect known as twilight sedation. In this state, you may feel almost asleep but can still respond to your dentist’s questions and instruction. If you receive general anesthetic, you probably won’t feel or even remember anything about the procedure at all.


Routine Cautions Regarding Dental Sedation

Skilled professionals trained in sedation dentistry can use sedatives safely and effectively. However, sedative and anesthetic drugs come with certain risks that call for vigilance and care in their use. Underlying health conditions can complicate the use of dental sedation. For this reason, it is important that your medical history form is filled out completely and accurately, including listing of all medications and supplements you currently take.

For all forms of sedation, you will be advised it you need to have an escort with you to drive you home post-procedure as while you may be awake, you’ll likely feel some residual drowsiness that might impair your driving skills. Remember to make these plans before your appointment.


Sedation Dentistry Costs and Insurance

The cost of your sedation dentistry will depend on factors such as the type of sedation you received and how much of it you require. (The amount of sedation required can vary according to your physical size and age.) Most standard dental insurance plans won’t cover sedation because insurers don’t regard it as a medically essential treatment. You might receive coverage if your procedure involves multiple appointments, or if the use of sedation helps to reduce the overall procedure cost. Otherwise, plan to pay for this form of care either out of pocket or with the aid of a supplemental dental payment plan or account.

Woodview Oral Surgery can answer all your questions about sedation dentistry and provide this form of care if you need it. Contact our office to learn more.


Image Credits: Photo by Caroline LM on Unsplash