Gum Disease: The Threat to your Dental Implant

Gum disease is a concern for everyone but none more so than people with dental implants. Unhealthy gums can threaten the viability of dental implants. The prospect of losing your dental implants is a scary one but the good news is, serious gum disease is preventable. 

What Causes Gum Disease? 

Gum or periodontal disease begins with the build-up of plaque, a colourless, sticky film that is composed of food particles and diverse types of bacteria. The bacteria stick to the teeth around the gum line and below. The plaque produces toxins that irritate the gums causing them to become inflamed, red, swollen and to bleed easily. Plaque can also harden into rough substances called tartar. Over time, the gums separate from the teeth causing spaces or pockets to form. 

The Damage Gum Disease Causes to Dental Implants 

When natural or prosthetic teeth aren’t brushed and flossed, and plaque is allowed to build-up, it causes inflammation which can destroy part of the jawbone. The inflammatory process that affects the soft and hard tissue around dental implants is known as peri-implantitis. The soft tissue becomes inflamed and the hard tissue which is the alveolar bone can dissolve over time. The lost jawbone allows the implant to loosen and potentially dislodge. The implant cannot be re-inserted because the bone is inadequate to hold it in place. Jawbone, in the presence of bacteria, does not regenerate and will only heal when the irritant is removed. 

What Happens if a Dental Implant is Lost? 

If a dental implant comes loose, a dentist will need to assess whether the cause was due to jawbone loss and if the implant can be saved. If a dental implant is no longer viable, the patient’s options for prosthetic teeth can be limited. The options will depend on many variables and detailed assessment and review will be required. 

From Implant to Dentures 

To lose a dental implant can be devastating. Implants are designed to last a lifetime and for most people are a sizable investment. If the dental implant doesn’t last, they have the added expense of an alternative dental prosthetic. 

Instead of having the convenience of a dental implant, they may need to get used to wearing dentures and the disadvantages that come with them including: 

· The worry that they may have a denture mishap when eating or chewing 

· Dentures need to be fitted daily and requires an adhesive to be applied which can be messy 

· Dentures require removing each night and storing in a cup or water or denture solution 

· The need to reline or adjust dentures if a patient’s gums or jawbone changes over time 

Caring for Your Dental Implant 

Dental implants can remain strong and viable with just a few minutes care each day. Just like natural teeth, dental implants need brushing and flossing daily to remove food particles and bacteria that adhere to the teeth and gums. 

When bacteria numbers are kept under control, it doesn’t produce the toxins or poisons that irritate the gums and cause the inflammation. 

It is important that dental implants are checked and professionally cleaned. See your dentist every six months to check the health of your jawbone and the condition of your gums. If gum disease is left to progress the damage can become irreversible. 

Your dentist will use special tools on your dental implants that won’t cause micro-scratches on the surface. A scratched surface allows more bacteria to adhere to it. 

If you would like to discuss whether dental implants are an option for you, call us on (08) 9321 1632 or contact us online.