Dental implants cost anywhere from $3,000 to $4,500 per tooth, so ensuring your new teeth stay functional as long as possible saves money over the long haul. Implants can last a lifetime, but you have to consistently maintain them, and that starts with cleaning them properly. Here are three things you should do to keep your dental implants clean and healthy.
Use Low-Abrasive Toothpaste
Although dental implants are made from sturdy material capable of chewing through tough foods, they can still get damaged. One of the unlikeliest culprits that can actually do a lot of harm over time is your toothpaste. Specifically, using toothpaste that contains abrasive chemicals or materials can cause scratches in your teeth (both false and real) that attract bacteria and hold onto stains.
Additionally, abrasive toothpastes can irritate your gums, making them more susceptible to developing an infection—such as periimplantitis--that can cause your implants to fall out. Thus, it's essential you use a gentle tooth cleanser that gets rid of plaque without eroding your teeth.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using toothpaste with a Relative Dentin Abrasivity rating of 250 or less. If the toothpaste you're using has the ADA seal of approval, then it meets this requirement. However, if the product doesn't have the seal, then look up the information online or ask your dentist.
Floss with Implant-Friendly Products
Flossing is an integral part of your oral hygiene because the instrument can get in places where a toothbrush can't, such as between teeth and under the gums. Neglecting this important act increases your risk of developing periodontal disease because bacteria will simply fester in the untreated areas and irritate your gums.
When it comes to dental implants, though, you'll want to use flossing products designed for them, such as crown and bridge floss. Typically, these products are thicker and stiffer than regular floss so that it gets into any awkward gaps you may have due to how your implants were placed. Additionally, this type of floss is meant to be used with toothpaste, ensuring the fluoride in the product gets distributed to the tight crevices that need it the most.
If you're not big on flossing with thread, an alternative option is to use a water flosser. This product uses a thin stream of water to dislodge debris from between teeth. It's typically better for those who have sensitive teeth and or hand mobility issues that make using floss a challenge. Be aware, though, that you'll have to use the water flosser before brushing your teeth; otherwise, the water will simply wash the toothpaste away, rendering it useless.
Clean with a Soft-Bristled Electric Brush
As noted previously, abrasive toothpastes can damage your implants over time. The same goes for your toothbrush and for similar reasons. Hard-bristled brushes can scratch the implant material, weakening it over time and making it more susceptible to breaking. Thus, you should always opt for a soft-bristled brush unless your dentist recommends something stronger to address a specific concern.
If you can afford it, though, you should also opt to get an electric toothbrush rather than a manual one. Electric brushes can do significantly more brush strokes per minute than the human hand, which means your teeth will get a lot cleaner in less time. The gentle vibrations also massage gums, keeping them healthy by increasing blood flow and improving circulation.
On top of your daily oral hygiene, you should see your dentist regularly for professional cleanings. In addition to getting rid of plaque and tartar in areas you just couldn't reach, the dentist will inspect your implants for signs of infection or other trouble, which can help you prevent issues before they become expensive problems.
For more information about dental implants, contact a local cosmetic dentist.