How Infection Can Affect Your New Dental Implant

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Can your new dental implant become infected? Not exactly. It's made of titanium alloys (the small screw implanted in your jaw) and ceramic materials (the prosthetic tooth attached to the implant). These are non-organic materials, so they can't technically become infected. When an infected dental implant is being discussed, the infection is actually in the tissues surrounding and supporting the implant. The implant isn't the direct cause either, but it can aggravate things. Fortunately, such an infection is easily avoided.

Immediate Tissues

The immediate tissues surrounding and supporting your dental implant are periodontal—or your gum tissues. Your gums react to the health of your teeth. Plaque, tartar, and other forms of bacterial biofilm on your teeth can reach problematic levels—corroding your teeth and irritating your gums.

Irritation and Inflammation

This gum irritation (gingivitis) is all too common. Your gums become inflamed, tender, and will bleed easily after brushing. A similar problem can be found on the gums surrounding a dental implant. If the prosthetic tooth (and your other natural teeth) aren't brushed to the highest standard, an accumulation of destructive bacteria is likely to follow. Your prosthetic tooth can't corrode, but bacteria that lingers on it can irritate your gums.

Cleaning, Scaling, Debridement

Gum irritation around an implant will look and feel similar to infection around a natural tooth. It's possible for the site to become swollen, and produce pus. A dentist controls gingivitis by professionally cleaning and scaling teeth to remove harmful bacteria. The same general idea applies to your implant. The prosthetic tooth can be scaled, and a dentist may perform a debridement to thoroughly clean and irrigate the implant.

Your Jawbone

Infection around a dental implant first attacks the surrounding (gum) tissues. If untreated, the infection will work its way along the length of the implant until it reaches the implantation site—your jawbone. When an oral infection reaches the jaw, the matter can be quite serious. Healthy bone tissue can be lost, and the infection can easily spread to other teeth. In such a case, a dental implant would be removed, so the infection can be controlled before re-implantation becomes possible. 

The trick (and it's a simple one) is to maintain the highest possible level of oral hygiene, to prevent the excessive growth of potentially harmful oral bacteria. And if you should notice any abnormalities which hint at a gum infection, please report the matter to your dentist as soon as possible.

To learn more about dental implants, reach out to a local cosmetic dentistry clinic.