Although dental implants function just like natural teeth, there are some distinct differences you need to be aware of when it comes to caring for them. If you have implants, you may notice that your dental hygienist uses special instruments different from the ones used for cleaning natural teeth. The cleaning variations can between dental implants and natural teeth can be attributed to the following reasons:
1. The differences in the way dental implants and natural teeth attach to the gums and surrounding bone.
2. The contrast between natural teeth and the materials used to construct dental implants.
Dental Implant Attachment
Implants are comprised of three parts: the titanium implant, the tooth-colored crown, and the abutment that often connects the two together. Once the implant is placed, the titanium begins to integrate with the bone through the osseointegration process. This process stops above the bone and this is where the abutment makes contact with the gum tissue. Dentists use a connective tissue composed of collagen for support. The fibers, which run parallel to the implant and end at the top of the bone, help hold the gum tissues against the surface of the implant.
Natural Teeth Attachment
A tooth root is affixed to a bony socket by a periodontal ligament made up of tiny fibers embedded into the bone on one side and the tooth root on the other. The fibers above the bone attach from the tooth into the gum tissue. The periodontal ligament transports a greater blood vessel supply, often accompanied by nutrients and cells that help ward off infection. Implants do not have this attachment.
On a day-to-day basis, you should care for your implants in the same way that you would your natural teeth. Good oral hygiene plays a vital role in the long-term success of your implants. Implants, like natural teeth, depend on healthy gum tissue for support. If you do not remove the daily build-up of bacterial biofilm (plaque) from the implant crowns, an infection called peri-implantitis can grow and cause loss of attachment. This infection can be downright disastrous due to the speed in which it advances and the amount of destruction it causes. Peri-implantitis can result in bone loss the size of a dish around the implant, quickly triggering tooth loss.