On a day-to-day basis, caring for your dental implant does not differ from how you would care for your natural teeth. Just like with your natural teeth, good oral hygiene helps ward off infection and maintain the long-term viability of your implants.
Diligent daily brushing and flossing certainly helps prevent plaque build-up, but your dental hygienist also plays an important role in keeping your implants free of infection. At your first post-implant cleaning, you’ll quickly notice that the tools your hygienist uses look very different from those used to clean your natural teeth. When selecting the appropriate instruments for your implant cleaning, the dental hygienist considers several factors.
Instrument Choice in Implant Cleanings
- The Type of Debris: The type debris will influence the selection of tools used to remove it. Soft debris like food and biofilm require different instruments than hard debris, such as calcified material and tartar.
- The Location of the Deposits: Some areas are easier to reach and clean than others.
- Surface Type: Just like natural teeth, your implant surfaces are unique and type of surface where the debris is located also influences the tool choice.
- Adherence Endurance: In some cases, debris can be removed with little effort; other times it may be more stubborn.
Choosing the Tool
When choosing instruments for your implant cleaning, your dental hygienist must also be mindful of several issues to avoid causing damage as well as maximize the efficacy of the cleaning.
• Not cause damage to the implant, abutment or crown.
• Maintain smooth surface and polish of the crown and abutment.
• Avoid scratches. Implants scratch differently than natural teeth so your dental hygienist uses curettes and scalers made from plastics or resins rather than metal to avoid any abrasions that could open the floodgates for bacteria to enter and fester.
• Ultrasonic instruments with high-frequency vibrations may be needed depending on the level of debris accumulated. If a power instrument is used in an implant cleaning, however, your hygienist will probably sheath it in plastic or nylon to curtail implant damage.
While implants undoubtedly present some cleaning challenges, their 95 percent long-term success rate far exceeds any other tooth replacement solution. If you are attentive to your daily oral hygiene and you see your dental hygienist for the recommended amount of cleanings, you have an excellent chance of preventing per-implant disease and enjoying your implants for a lifetime.