Posted On 1/19/2022 12:00:00 AM
by Bruce Kanehl
Dental implants are an excellent replacement option for tooth loss for multiple reasons. Many people, including dentists, prefer implants to other tooth replacement options due to greater longevity and enhanced aesthetics.
Despite this, dental implants are not always the best option. Even though cavities cannot occur on the implants due to the materials used to create them, there’s a risk of developing gum disease around these artificial teeth. If this happens, most likely, the implant will need to be removed or replaced, drastically reducing its lifespan.
When the periodontal disease develops around dental implants, it is referred to as peri-implant disease. A complication of dental implants, peri-implant disease, is an inflammatory issue that adversely impacts the gum tissue around the implant. Similar to the development of periodontal disease in natural teeth, it is caused by bacteria build-up at the base of the dental implant, which then causes inflammation.
If left undiagnosed, the inflammation progresses, damaging the hard and soft gum tissue around the implant. This results in impairment of the dental implant's aesthetics, function, and longevity.
Gum diseases affecting dental implants can be split into two categories:
Like most periodontal diseases, the peri-implant disease is usually painless. For this reason, the condition might remain unnoticed for an extended period if you don’t visit your dentist regularly.
The signs and symptoms of peri-implant inflammation are similar to gum disease. If you have dental implants, here are some signs indicating you might be experiencing this condition:
Typically, the implant metal threads should not be visible. Exposure of the implant threads and loosening of the implant indicates dental disease, and you should seek help from a dentist immediately.
The mouth harbors thousands of bacteria. Some are beneficial, while the majority are harmful. These bacteria can colonize different parts of the implant, especially the base, and will multiply if conditions are favorable.
Factors that favor the growth and multiplication of bacteria causing peri-implant disease include:
The treatment usually depends on the severity of the condition. The initial phases of peri-implant mucositis can only be successfully reversed through implant decontamination. This involves the removal of the debris below the gum line, thereby preventing the progression of gingival inflammation. More recently, dentists have been using, laser technology which has been shown to be effective in decontaminating implant surfaces.
Although implant decontamination can be used in treating peri-implantitis, the success rate is relatively low. When you develop peri-implantitis, your dentist might recommend bone or gum grafting around the dental implants.
Bone grafting helps restore lost bone structure around the implant and sometimes might require removal of the implant, crown, or abutment. Gum grafting is indicated in events of considerable gum recession.
With good oral care, you can prevent the development of peri-implant diseases. Some prevention tactics you can use to prevent disease include:
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Dr. Kanehl is one of a select few in the Jacksonville area to be a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and to treat sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy.