If you have damaged teeth beyond repair that need fixing/, dental implants are a permanent solution. Dr. LaViola with Dental Masters can help answer any questions about your oral hygiene.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant, an artificial tooth root, will bring you as close as possible to having your original tooth. People typically need a dental implant to replace a missing tooth caused by non-restorable decay (cavity), severe gum disease, a failed root canal, natural causes of aging, or accidental severe tooth damage.

A dental implant is placed in the same bone that housed your original tooth. Dr. LaViola uses the best technology available for her procedures including digital x-rays, 3D mapping, models, photographs and case guides.

A dental implant gives you stability and confidence, leaving you feeling like it’s your natural tooth.

The dentist will use an anesthetic to numb the site and place the implant. A guide hole will provide a path for threading a small implant cylinder into place. The sterile piece then settles into a specific location, and the dentist will add a smooth cover that protects the implant during the 3–6-month healing process. In particular cases, the dentist will place a temporary or permanent crown.

Following the healing process, the dentist will attach custom-made crowns or bridges to the implants with small screws or dental cement.

Different types of dental implants

dental implants

Dentists can perform two forms of dental implants, along with four different types of implants.

The two forms include:

  1. Endosteal implant 

An endosteal implant is the most common form of implant and is made of titanium, small screws, and alloplastic material. This implant is surgically inserted into the jawbone and bonds to the natural bone over time.

  1. Subperiosteal implant

A subperiosteal implant is extremely rare; it is typically the best option for patients who don’t have enough natural jawbone to support endosteal implants. Unlike the endosteal implant, a subperiosteal implant is not surgically inserted, it is placed under the gums.

The four types of implants include:

  1. Single-tooth implant

Single-tooth implants require one dental crown that connects to the implant screw. It is ideal when only one tooth is missing.

  1. Implant-supported bridge

Implant-supported bridges are an option for individuals with several missing teeth in a row. Instead of adjacent healthy teeth being used as an anchor, the implant acts as an anchor for the bridge. The implant restores function by preventing other teeth from moving

  1. All-on-4 dental implants

All-on-4 implants are recommended for patients who want a secure solution for several missing teeth. The dentist inserts four implants that will restore your entire upper or lower jaw.

  1. 3-on-6 dental implants

A 3-on-6 implant is ideal for individuals who need to replace a whole arch of teeth. It consists of three dental bridges attached to six dental implants.

Can I use an electric toothbrush on my dental implant?

Even though your dental implants can’t decay as natural teeth can, it is still important to keep them clean.

Once you get a dental implant, you don’t need to permanently get rid of your electric toothbrush. In fact, electric toothbrushes can be more effective in cleaning your teeth than normal toothbrushes.

That being said, you should not use an electric toothbrush directly following a dental implant procedure because the vibrations of the toothbrush can cause the implant to fail and not attach to your jawbone correctly. Even the vibrations from chewing can do this which is why your dentist will discuss a liquid and soft-food diet with you for the months following your procedure.

How to take care of your dental implant

Initially, you will not be able to brush your teeth during the healing process and should instead rinse your mouth with warm salt water to prevent infections. You will also want to avoid touching the implant.

Adhere to the following post-surgery care:

  1. Control bleeding

It is normal for the implant to bleed for up to 72 hours after the surgery. To control it, bite down on gauze for an hour every 6-10 hours as necessary. To avoid excessive bleeding, sit upright, refrain from physical exercise, don’t bend over, don’t lift heavy objects, and don’t spit, smoke or use a straw.

  1. Manage pain

Tylenol can be an effective pain management medication, but your dentist may offer insight into what products would be best for you. Pain and discomfort should ease up around four days post-surgery. If symptoms of stiffness of throat and difficulty swallowing persists for longer than a few days, contact your dentist.

  1. Minimizing swelling and bruising

Swelling and bruising of your face and gums will continue to the day after surgery. You can put an ice pack on it for 15 minutes at a time to help reduce the swelling. You can also reduce swelling by sleeping elevated, avoiding salt and staying hydrated.

  1. Get proper rest

Oftentimes, people return to work the day after their procedure, but if your job is strenuous, try to take a few days off. It is also recommended that you don’t do any vigorous exercise for at least a week.

  1. Maintain your oral hygiene

Maintaining your oral hygiene is vital in your recovery process. The tissues around your implants need to be cleaned to recover; infections are the number one cause of implant failure. You can brush the teeth as you normally would the evening of your procedure but avoid contact with the implant. Continue to rinse your mouth with warm salt water after every meal for a week. After that, use a chlorhexidine rinse. 

Do not use water flossers or electric toothbrushes for at least a few days. Your dentist may give you a dental implant cleaning brush to use. 

Long-term oral hygiene like brushing, mouth rinsing and flossing every day is essential in keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

Warning signs of problems with your dental implants

dental implants

The last thing you want following a dental implant surgery is complications, but you can watch for these eight signs that your implant has failed.

  1. Easily infections

Infections are caused by the bacteria your mouth naturally houses. Signs of an implant infection is bad breath, pus, fever, icky taste and throbbing pain.

  1. Intense pain and trouble chewing or biting

Pain is normal after receiving implants, but if it persists and is severe, check in with your dentist. You shouldn’t have trouble biting down on your food because new implants should act as natural teeth and should not cause pain from eating. If the pain is similar to a cavity, contact your dentist.

  1. Swollen and enflamed gums

Swelling of your gums should not persist for longer than three to five days. When there is an infection, your gums will swell, turn red and spread throughout your mouth.

  1. Allergic reactions

Be aware if you are allergic to titanium which is a dental implant issue because your body rejects the material. It can cause itchiness, numbness and loss of taste.

  1. Implant feels loose

Implants should feel as secure as a natural tooth. Contact your dentist if you feel it wiggle; otherwise, it could cause permanent damage to your gums.

  1. Lack of bone structure

If your bones are dense, your implants will have a difficult time sticking to your jawbone which will cause your implants to shift, letting in bacteria. Dentists can place a donor bone graft in to serve as a scaffold for new bone cells to grow on.

  1. Slow or poor healing

Individuals with cancer, gum disease or diabetes may experience a slower healing process that is caused by constant bleeding and pain. Make sure to have a check-up with your dentist if these signs persist.

  1. Constantly grind your teeth

If you implant is not aligned correctly with your jawbone, it will cause you to grind your teeth, putting pressure on your implant and making it hard to integrate with you jaw. Contact your dentist if you have concerns of your implant being aligned with your jawbone.

Basic oral hygiene tips to consider

To keep your teeth and gums healthy, follow these oral hygiene rules:

  • Brush teeth twice a day for two minutes and floss daily
  • Visit your dentist every 6 months to maintain cleaning and checking for cavities
  • Do not use tobacco products and limit alcoholic drinks
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste and drink fluoridated water

Benefits of an electric toothbrush

It is known that dentists recommend using an electric toothbrush, especially if you are prone to cavities and gum diseases. Here are benefits to an electric toothbrush rather than a manual one:

  • Provides a more thorough cleaning. Depending on the brand of electric toothbrush, it can produce 2,000-30,000 strokes per minute while your hands can only produce about 300 strokes per minute.
  • A longer cleaning. Since electric toothbrushes have a two-minute timer function, you are more likely to brush for the full amount than you would using a manual toothbrush
  • Equal cleaning. Manually brushing, your hands tend to use more force on your non-dominant side than your dominate side, but an electric toothbrush uses the same force throughout.
  • Better plaque removal. Electric toothbrushes are much better at removing plaque on your teeth and gums than when you manually brush your teeth.
  • Improves breath. Electric toothbrushes are more efficient at removing food particles than manually brushing which is what causes bad breath.