How to prevent diseases in dental implants

Dental implants are an ideal therapeutic option to replace missing teeth. Survival studies show that more than 90% of implants will continue to function in the mouth even 25 years after they have been placed. However, they are not exempt from biological complications. That is why in the implantology of the 21st century we have to put all our efforts not only to ensure that the implant remains in the mouth, but also that it does so in the absence of complications. Throughout this article, we are going to answer a series of questions to help us understand that dental implants are fabulous and can last a long time, but we must make an effort to keep them free of complications.

What are the most common diseases in dental implants?

Within the group of biological complications, peri-implant diseases are the most frequent. These are a group of inflammatory pathologies of infectious origin that affect the tissues surrounding the implant. Two main groups of pathologies have been described.

The first is mucositis, in which there is inflammation of the gum around the implant without affecting the bone. On the contrary, in peri-implantitis, in addition to finding an inflamed gingiva, we will detect a loss of the bone surrounding the implant, which can compromise 100% of the supporting tissue and lead to the loss of the implant. While mucositis is a reversible form of the disease once we clean the prosthesis and the implant, peri-implantitis usually leads to irreversible bone loss. Therefore, the sooner it is treated, the better.

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Why do these diseases appear?

These diseases occur as a result of the accumulation of bacterial plaque and tartar around the implant and its restoration. In addition, there are a series of risk factors that increase the probability of these pathologies occurring. Among these, we can highlight the following:

  • Having lost teeth due to gum disease.
  • Tobacco consumption
  • Failure to attend check-ups and professional cleaning visits
  • Not cleaning the implants at home on a daily basis

In addition, it is important that the surgical and prosthetic planning is carried out in the most scrupulous way possible and individualized for each case.

What can I do to avoid them?

The best strategy to prevent these diseases is to control the main risk factors. To summarize, it is important that when dental implants are placed we have regular check-ups and maintenance in the dental office (cleaning by the professional). In addition, the team of professionals must explain to the patient how to sanitize the prostheses anchored to the implants.

It should be taken into account that not all prostheses are going to be the same, so hygiene instructions should be individualized for each patient. In turn, the frequency with which one has to make revisions and cleanings will depend on the complexity of the case (the greater the number of implants, the greater the frequency), how well the patient is applying daily oral hygiene techniques and whether or not the patient has lost teeth due to gum disease.

On the other hand, frequent check-ups will allow us to detect the initial forms of the disease, the treatment of which has been shown to be very effective. However, the chances of success of the more advanced forms of peri-implantitis are greatly diminished.

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In conclusion, implants and prostheses should be placed by highly qualified professionals, the patient should be motivated to perform correct hygiene techniques at home and periodic cleanings should be part of a loyalty program between the dental professional and the patient.

How do I know if I suffer from any of them?

The best way to realize that we have a problem in our implants is to assess if during dental hygiene techniques we find bleeding gums. Another way to realize that we should go to the dentist for a revision is if we observe tartar around the implant prosthesis, inflammation or redness of the gum or pain when we touch the gum. Once in the dental clinic it is possible that an X-ray may be necessary to make a differential diagnosis and the correct treatment plan.