A Root Canal

Tips to Help Prevent Serious Dental Implant Infections

Dental implants are extremely common tooth replacements that require the surgical placement of a titanium implant root. While dental implants have an extremely high success rate, surgery is still required to fit the root. This means that surgical complications can occur, even though they are rare. One of the most common implant complications is peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis is a dental implant infection that affects both the soft tissues and the bone around the implant site. This can cause inflammation, pain, and the eventual failure of the implant root.

In some cases, peri-implantitis may be so serious that bone tissue may die and require removal. The infection condition is most likely to develop directly after your initial implant surgery. You can prevent infections fairly easily, and the following tips can help.

Keep Excessive Bacteria Out of the Mouth

Your mouth will contain a slew of bacteria; about 20 billion bacteria will be in the mouth at one time. This is normal, but you can substantially increase the amount of bacteria that enter your mouth and come into contact with the implant area if you are careless. This can increase your infection risks.

Bacteria enter into the mouth in a variety of ways, and you can limit the amount that come into your body by reducing microbes within the food and water you consume. To reduce microbes in your water, make sure your sink faucet is as clean as possible. Since the hands often touch the faucets and transfer microbes to them, place a small amount of bleach on a rag and wipe down the faucet a few times a day to kill off bacteria. Pay close attention to the spigot end where the water is released. 

Reduce bacteria on your food by cooking food items to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and keeping the food above 140 degrees before you are ready to eat it. If you eat raw vegetables or fruits, then make sure to use soap and water to thoroughly clean the outsides before eating. A soft-bristled brush can help to work microorganisms from the food as well.

Bacteria can enter the mouth through shared food or drinks, so try not to share items until the surgical implant area heals. Also, your toothbrush will hold a great deal of bacteria that can reproduce as your damp brush sits on the edge of your sink. Dip your toothbrush in mouthwash for about 30 seconds before brushing to kill some of the microbes. You can also place the tip of the brush in boiling water before you clean your mouth.

Pay Attention to the Abutment

The dental implant root will sit just below the gum line, and the top of the root will have a hole in the middle. To prevent the gums from healing over the end of the implant and to also keep bacteria from slipping down near the implant root, a small cap is screwed into the opening. The cap is called an abutment. Since the cap is screwed down into place, it can loosen a small amount. Bacteria can then gather underneath the cap. 

You should inspect the abutment daily to make sure it is secured into place. Gently press on the cap to make sure it does not move. If you see a small space underneath the abutment, then make an appointment with your dental professional. The device may need to be tightened. 

You will also want to make sure that you keep the cap as clean as possible to reduce bacteria around the area, so it cannot cause an infection if the abutment does loosen. Gently clean with a toothbrush, and use a water flosser to spray around the edges of the cap. Place a small amount of sea salt or mouthwash in the water flosser reservoir to create an antibacterial rinse if you want a more powerful cleaning solution. 

For more information or assistance, contact resources like Richard L. Myers, DDS.