If you are getting an implant, your dentist may have talked to you about peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis is an inflammatory process where soft tissue and bone that surrounds the implant breaks down—often due to bacteria that's seeped underneath the crown. While this condition is reversible, it can increase the risk of implant failure.
One way you and your dentist can reduce the risk of peri-implantitis is by maintaining a healthy permucosal seal. Read on to learn what the permucosal seal is, how your dentist can improve it, and how your care habits can protect it.
What Is the Permucosal Seal?
The permucosal seal is an unbroken junction between your gum tissue and the implant abutment. The abutment is the connector between the crown, or false tooth, and the implant post that is embedded in the jawbone.
A healthy permucosal seal is made up of firm, pink keratinized tissue. Keratinized tissue is filled with a protein called keratin—similar to your nails—and forms a tough resistant structure. This tissue wraps around the abutment and holds it securely in place.
How Do Dentists Encourage Healthy Permucosal Seals?
People at a higher risk for peri-implantitis, like smokers or people with health conditions, may need to abstain from certain habits or take certain medications to reduce their risk after surgery.
To improve the permucosal seal, your dentist may decide to graft gum tissue around the implant site in areas with less keratinized tissue. One study found that gingival grafts could prevent further loss of gum attachment.
Another way your dentist can encourage a healthy permucosal seal is by coating the titanium implant post with chemical compounds that promote healing. For instance, another study found that peptide coatings improved the permucosal seal by increasing keratinous cells in the area. Peptides are short strings of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. The extra coating of these peptides will help the area heal.
How Can You Maintain a Healthy Permucosal Seal After Implant Surgery?
While you can brush and floss around the implant as you would your other teeth, it's a good idea to purchase floss, toothbrushes, and toothpaste that are made for implants. Using the right oral hygiene products will help you to maintain a healthy permucosal seal.
For example, soft-bristled toothbrushes are ideal for implants since they don't scratch the crown, and since they won't abrade gum tissue. Both manual or electric toothbrushes can work; you may even want to get a nylon-coated inter-dental toothbrush so you can clean tight spaces around the implant.
Many kinds of toothpaste contain abrasives like baking soda or silicates; these abrasive materials can scratch your implant crown and be rough on your gums. Ask your dentist to recommend a good toothpaste brand. Your dentist can also recommend floss brands that are good for implants. The right floss is important because some floss can shred, and these shredded particles can get stuck between the abutment and your gum tissue. While bacteria can lead to peri-implantitis, shredded floss particles can also irritate the permucosal seal and lead to inflammation.
Lastly, you may want to invest in an oral irrigator and gum tissue stimulator. Oral irrigators use streams of water to help loosen food debris. Oral irrigators aren't meant to replace floss, but they can loosen particles so that people aren't tempted to floss too aggressively. Gum stimulators are dental tools with soft, rubbery attachments that can gently massage gingival tissue. These tools help to increase blood flow which in turn promotes healing and healthy keratinized tissue.
To learn more about dental implants and how to maintain a healthy permucosal seal, reach out to a dentist in your area today.