Dental implants are a fairly routine option for replacing a missing tooth, but they aren't without their potential risks. One concern for patients with a dental implant is peri-implantitis. This condition causes progressive bone loss directly beneath the implant. If you're considering a dental implant, you need to understand the signs of this condition as well as tips to help you avoid it.
Peri-implantitis is an inflammatory condition like gum disease. It's usually caused by a bacterial infection. Over time, the infection will cause jaw bone deterioration, which can actually lead to loss of the implant itself.
Knowing what to watch for is a key part of identifying this condition early. Most cases start with swelling and redness in the gums near the implant. Your gums may start bleeding in that area as well. If you see signs like this immediately around an implant, it's an indication that you might be developing peri-implantitis.
If you're careful about the care of your implant, you may be able to avoid the risk of peri-implantitis completely. Be vigilant about attending your follow-up appointments and routine dental visits after the implant procedure, because that's the only way you're going to identify any bone loss that may occur as a result of the condition.
In addition, those visits to your dentist will help to ensure that the entire implant area is kept as clean as possible. He or she will make an effort to deep-clean the crevices around the implant, which can keep bacteria at bay. Your dentist will use a cleaning tool that's softer than the implant, though, so you won't have to worry about damaging the surface of the implant itself.
At the first sign of any inflammation, pain or redness around the implant, you'll need to call your dentist for a thorough examination. He or she will do x-rays and examine the bone as well as the surrounding tissue to treat any symptoms before they progress.
Developing peri-implantitis doesn't mean that you cannot treat it. There are actually several different treatments that your dentist might suggest. For example, your dentist will likely suggest some general changes to your oral hygiene to help combat any bacteria. Daily care like brushing and flossing will help, as will following any other hygiene recommendations. For example, your dentist may suggest that you use a mouth rinse daily as an antibacterial treatment.
Since peri-implantitis is typically the result of bacteria, an antibacterial ointment or oral medication may also be recommended. Your dentist will examine the area in great detail to determine the extent of the infection. In cases where there are deep pockets of bacteria, you may receive an oral medication as well as a direct local injection to help kick-start the healing process.
In extreme cases of peri-implantitis, your dentist may recommend that you seek surgery. If the infection has spread into the jaw bone and is causing deterioration of the bone, surgery may be the best method to correct the problem. Your dentist may suggest a bone graft followed by a gum graft over the bone. Surgery like this will lengthen your recovery time but may be necessary if you're experiencing significant problems with bone loss.
If you're new to the concept of dental implants, understanding the potential complications is important. Knowing what peri-implantitis is and how it's treated will help you to be better prepared in the event that you do opt for the surgery. Talk with a dentist, such as those at The Center For Progressive Dentistry, at length about your candidacy for implants as well as your risk of peri-implantitis and other complications. Staying informed and aware will help you increase your chances of a complete and successful recovery.