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How to Prevent an Infection After Dental Implants

April 22, 2022

Introduction

A life-changing experience for many people, dental implants can improve the impression of the smile and increase all-around comfort and function.

But Dental implant process is invasive and may require several surgeries. 

A relatively common dental procedure, Dental implants go in without a hitch, mostly.

However rare complications are possible as it is with any procedure. Adequate post-implantation care is the key to preventing infection and ensuring that the procedure is successful.

One of the most common complications following surgery is Dental Plant infection and, in most cases, it is a minor problem that can be easily resolved.

Dr. Gaurav Sharma at Kirkland Premier Dentistry says, “Whether one is about to go in for a dental implant procedure or already has one done, it’s always helpful to be informed”

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about dental implant infections.

How Do Dental Implants Work?

Dental implants help to replace a missing tooth permanently. A small screw-like structure is first installed into the jaw bone by the dentist and it forms the root of the new tooth.

People who have had severe bone loss in their jaw may need a bone graft beforehand.

This regrowth of the bone is stimulated by the implant, making the new tooth more stable.

On the healing of the tooth, the dentist attaches the top of the implant, giving the patient a permanent tooth that both looks and feels natural.

What is a Dental Implant Infection?

When the area around the implant site gets inflamed, it’s called a Dental Infection. There are two major types of Dental Infection:

  • Peri-implant mucositis: The less serious of the two infections, it is commonly caused by poor oral hygiene. A plaque biofilm is formed between the implant and prosthetic crown and there is an inflammation of the soft tissue around an implant, with no additional bone loss.
  • Peri-implantitis:  Usually a result of untreated peri-implant mucositis, it is a more serious destructive inflammatory condition of the soft and hard tissues around dental implants, which affects a large area of the bone covering the artificial tooth root.  

What are the Most Common Dental Implant Infection Signs? 

Every surgery takes some time to heal, leaving the area exposed and vulnerable to bacteria.

However the risk of infection after dental implant surgery is relatively low, and its treatment is quite easy if the patient acts swiftly and sees a dentist immediately on developing the warning signs. 

Symptoms of infection may include the following:

Pain and Trouble in Chewing:

Some pain after any invasive dental procedure is natural but it should be manageable with a prescription or over-the-counter pain killer.

However, if the pain increases or spreads to the point where it interferes with talking and chewing, it may be a sign of an infection.

Fever, Redness, and Swelling:

Similarly to pain a little swelling around the surgery area after getting the implants is also normal.

However, it should not last for more than the first few days. Aggravated swelling and redness, particularly accompanied by fever, can be a sign of infection.

Constant Bad Taste in the Mouth:

The buildup of bad bacteria and debris is the main cause of dental implant infections.

As these bacteria settle in the gums and trickle into the mouth, it is usually accompanied by a persistent terrible bad taste in the mouth and in some cases a constant bad breath.

Bleeding or Leaking Pus:

The infection may also cause the leaking of blood and pus into the mouth. An infection can cause persistent bleeding which might increase after a few days.

Loose Implant:

As the dental implants are screwed directly onto the jawbone to keep them from coming loose, they should remain stable for the rest of their life.

An implant that is loose or wobbly is a sign that there is an issue with it and that another procedure may be needed to fix it.

What are the Causes of the Infection Around Dental Implants?

The causes of dental implant infection usually include:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking
  • An allergic reaction caused by the implant
  • Chronic health issues such as diabetes
  • A weak immune system
  • A bite that is misaligned can contribute to the growth of bacteria
  • Grinding or clenching of teeth.
  • Severe bone loss in the jaw 

How Can I Reduce the Risk of Infection Following Dental Implants Surgery?

All the symptoms of dental implant infection can be normally avoided with proper care post-implant surgery. 

It is extremely important to follow the aftercare instructions given by your dentist carefully.

One of the major contributing factors toward a smooth dental implant experience is consulting a reputed and competent dentist with an extensive dental implant experience for the procedure.

However, the good news is that the risk of dental implant infection is very low, especially if one sticks to a proper care regime post-implant surgery. This includes:

Good Oral Hygiene

A diligent and optimal hygiene routine can go a long way in preventing an infection from occurring after dental implant surgery. 

Gently brushing teeth twice a day helps to prevent the accumulation of infection-causing bacteria.

In addition to brushing, flossing is also very important as it helps to remove the food particles that cannot be reached by a toothbrush.

Robust oral hygiene helps to ensure that the gums and teeth have an environment that is conducive for the implants to thrive.

Rinse Regularly

Regular rinsing is one of the most important aspects of healing dental implants. Rinsing helps to control the accumulation of bacteria, subsequently reducing the risk of infection.

Patients must rinse the mouth once or twice a day with a dentist-approved mouthwash or a saltwater solution. 

Avoid Smoking

Smoking can invite a lot of bacteria into the mouth and also compromises the body’s capacity to heal properly.

It is one of the worst things that a patient can do to the implants after surgery. Patients are advised to avoid smoking both before and after the surgery.

Avoid Foods and Beverages High in Sugar

Sugar is not good for the gums at any time, but it can be especially damaging to gums when they are in the healing process.

Patients should completely avoid foods and beverages that contain a lot of sugar, during the healing of dental implants.

Being extremely small, sugar particles can hide in the tiny crevices of the mouth, including within the site of the surgery, and can lead to an excessive buildup of bacteria.

In addition to all these measures, patients should take care to reduce their physical activity for a few days and take the prescribed antibiotics and medicines properly to ensure optimal healing of the implants.

What Should One Do Upon Noticing the Signs of Dental Implant Infection in the Mouth?

Time is of great essence when it comes to saving dental implants. Ignoring the problem will not only make things worse but also increase the risk of the infection spreading to the body.

One must call the dentist immediately on noticing any of the above-mentioned red flags. 

Conclusion

Dental implants can last a lifetime, but only if the initial process is successful. Poor dental hygiene and not following aftercare instructions can lead to dental implant problems. 

Dr. Gaurav Sharma stresses the importance of discussing with the dentist about precautions that need to be taken and the ways to take care of the implants immediately following the surgery.

The dentist may give some specific guidelines for proper healing of the implants and it is very important to follow them.

It is also important to remember that if the infection happens, it will not go away on its own and may further lead to serious oral damage if not treated on time.

So it is extremely important to call the dental surgeon immediately if you think your implant is infected.

However, When you are inexperienced and competent hands,  there is no need to worry about dental implant infections leading to implant failure.

At Kirkland Premier Dentistry, we provide optimal dental implant solutions and make sure our patients are appropriately guided about how to avoid any infections

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