Is the dental implant prone to cavities or gum disease? - Dr. Colin Richman

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Is the dental implant prone to cavities or gum disease?

March 15, 2013

By: Dr. Colin Richman

Patients who lost teeth to extensive decay or advanced periodontal disease often wonder whether their replacement teeth might suffer from the same problems.

Dental implants are not prone to cavities because they are made of titanium. The bacteria that cause tooth decay can only wreak havoc on biological tooth material like enamel. Even a prosthetic crown or cap will not develop cavities because the porcelain is able to withstand attacks from the bacteria. However, the tooth under the crown is still susceptible to tooth decay. This is why we suggest use of a strong fluoride gel for our patients that have crowns and bridges.

On the other hand, a dental implant CAN be affected by gum disease, since the same bacteria can cause inflammation of the gum tissue around the implants. Gum disease can be a serious problem for dental implants, especially when it advances to the point at which the structural integrity of the jawbone is compromised. Good bone quality is essential to support the implant and hold it in place. If the bone is lost due to periodontal disease, the implant may ultimately fail.

Dr. Colin Richman is an expert in treating gum disease AND in the placement of dental implants. At our office, a thorough gum examination will always be done when considering your implant treatment. In addition, a new tool is available whereby a sample of your saliva can be tested to see if you have the bacteria known to cause gum disease in your mouth. This can help to determine whether there are infections in the mouth that need to be treated, and if so, which antibiotics are best to use as an adjunct to treatment.

Because dental implants can be affected by oral health conditions, it’s important to stick to a solid oral hygiene routine after you have the devices placed. Before the general dentist places a crown on an implant we have placed, we give the patient an interdental (between-the-teeth) toothbrush to take with them to their dentist’s office. We tell them “don’t let your dentist cement the final crown unless you can get this brush in between the implant and the adjacent teeth!” Prevention is the best medicine!

Last, but not least, we recommend that people with dental implants have preventive hygiene visits 3-4 times per year, to be sure the areas around the implant are healthy. At least one of those appointments should be at our office since we specialize in prevention, early detection of problems, and implant care.

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