Dental implants are an excellent choice for many people who are missing a tooth, as opposed to a bridge or dentures. To place the implant, your dentist will insert a small titanium post in your jaw where you are missing a tooth.
After the implant is placed, your dentist will set up a follow-up appointment for you to have a porcelain crown placed over it.
As your jawbone heals, it fuses with the implant, which gives it stability and allows the implant to function almost completely like a natural tooth. A dental implant can last for many years or even an entire lifetime if you care for it properly.
Home Care of Dental Implants
The most important things you can do to maintain your dental implant are things you can do at home. Brush and floss thoroughly at least twice a day to prevent plaque buildup that damages natural teeth and crowns. An oral irrigator can also help you clean between your teeth.
Avoid abrasive toothpastes, such as those with baking soda, and use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Scratches on your crown attract bacteria.
Stay away from or limit foods and drinks that could stain your crown, such as coffee, red wine, and tomato sauce.
Regular Dental Care
Visit your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings to help keep your implant in good shape. Your dental hygienist will clean your crown at the same time as your other teeth, though they may use different tools for cleaning around your implant.
Crowns can scratch under dental tools in a way natural teeth aren't susceptible to, so plastic tools or plastic covers can minimize damage.
Your dentist will also check your gums around the implant to make sure they aren't inflamed and that no part of the implant is visible. You will also have routine X-rays to check the implant placement and bone around it, to help catch any problems early.
Implant and Crown Replacement
With good cleaning and care, your implant could last the rest of your life. If your implant replaced a back molar you may have to have it replaced due to the extra pressure put on the back teeth.
The crown over your implant can last many years with proper care. Your dentist will tell you when your crown needs replacement. The crown replacement procedure is quick and easy when placed on an existing implant.
If you're planning to have a missing tooth replaced with a dental implant, talk to your dentist about your questions and concerns. Your dentist will give you thorough aftercare instructions to keep your implant looking and functioning at its best for years to come.