Don't Let Your Grill Get Ill: Protecting Newly-Fitted Dental Implants Against Infection

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Having a dental implant fitted is hardly a trivial procedure, but it can be an immensely rewarding one, increasing your confidence and potentially improving your ability to eat and speak clearly. However, the same kind of damage and disease that can attack teeth can wreak similar havoc on artificial implants, and the days and weeks after having a new implant fitted constitute a period in which the implant is particularly vulnerable to infection.

Basic oral hygiene after an implant fitting

Your standard routine ot brushing, rinsing and flossing is still the best defence you have against any and all oral infections, and this is no less true after having an implant fitted. However, it can be very painful and awkward to clean a newly fitted implant and the teeth and gums nearby. As such, you'll need to be a little more careful than usual:

  • Use a soft bristled brush to clean the implant and the teeth surrounding it - many ordinary toothbrushes have bristles that are too firm and may damage post-operative scarring on the gums, so you're better off using a specialised soft toothbrush recommended by your dentist.
  • Flossing is always important, but can be next to impossible when it comes to flossing a swollen and painful implant site. Try exchanging your floss for interdental brushes, which clean the sides of your implant effectively while placing less pressure on swollen gums.
  • If you have has artificial gums fitted around the implant site to compensate for gum damage, you can find special, slender-headed brushes for cleaning them without damaging the surrounding living gum tissue.

What if my implant does become infected?

If you suspect that your implant may have become infected, your recommended course of action depends largely on the severity of the symptoms you are experiencing:

  • Minor infections in the first few days after an implant operation are very common, and are generally characterised by swollen, red gums around the implant site. These infections can be painful and unsightly, but your dentist can provide you with antibiotics that should clear up the infection seriously.
  • If you notice pus leaking from the infected area, or if the swollen gum bleeds easily when probed, you may be dealing with a more serious infection. This is often provoked by a loosening of the screw that holds the implant in place during the first few weeks after implantation, and is relatively common - nonetheless, you should visit your dentist as a matter of urgency to have the screw re-tightened. Antibiotics are also generally prescribed to stop the infection before it worsens.
  • In rare cases, bacterial build-up around the base of a newly fitted implant can infect the bone of the jaw. While the bone infection itself is painless, it can be very destructive and dangerous to your health if left untreated. Luckily, infection of the jawbone is generally accompanied by severe pain in the surrounding soft tissues, so it's quite unlikely to go unnoticed. In these rare cases, the implant must be removed entirely.

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