Protecting patients’ investments

31 January 2023

Sharon Kidd discusses how to best to care for dental implants in-between appointments.

Sharon Kidd discusses how to best to care for dental implants in-between appointments.

Dental implants are exemplary of the advancements made within the dental industry, regarding both the techniques and skillsets of dental professionals. The materials used in the fabrication of dental implants have also vastly improved over the years. This modality helps dental professionals restore a patient’s confidence and oral function, providing long-lasting comfort and use. However, many patients may not realise that while these treatments offer striking aesthetics, they must be protected in the same way as natural dentition to facilitate their longevity.

This treatment is an investment, and all patients must be aware of how they can best care for their dental implants in-between regular dental appointments.

Biofilm? Sticky business

Diseases that impact the tissues around a dental implant, such as peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis, are a burden to the patient and to the professional, often threatening the outcome of the treatment while inflicting discomfort and pain. For the health of the patient and the success of their treatment, it’s imperative that patients are able to adequately care for their dental implants. As dental implant components provide an ideal environment for the adhesion of bacteria, poor oral hygiene can quickly lead to the potential for oral complications.

The oral cavity is home to a rich microbial community – a delicate composition that can be easily disturbed by internal and external forces, leading to disease. For both natural and artificial surfaces, biofilm development is thought to occur in several stages: admission of pathogenic bacteria into the oral cavity; salivary pellicle formation (a protein-based coating that covers surfaces of the teeth); increase of biofilm-forming bacteria; the exchange of drug-resistant genes between pathogenic biofilms and normal oral microflora; and, finally, the maturation of the biofilm.

Nesting bacteria is a common concern when it comes to dental implant placement. As previously mentioned, the components of a dental implant provide a favourable nook for bacteria to nest and thrive, although many advanced solutions on the dental market have been designed to reduce this risk. Product modifications have enhanced the relationship between the dental implant surface and the surrounding hard tissue, encouraging osseointegration while ensuring that the risk of biofilm formation remains low.

Patient compliance

There have been numerous studies that correlate the outcome of dental implant therapy with the level of patient compliance. Additional risks of peri-implant issues include patients who are diabetic, smoke, have a history of periodontal disease and take certain medications. In order for patients to best protect their dental implants and keep the risks of peri-implant diseases at a minimum, they must adhere to a strict oral hygiene routine. From the treatment planning stages right up to the regular, post-operative dental check-ups, there are plenty of opportunities for the dental team to advise and guide patients.

Brushing twice-daily with a fluoride toothpaste is considered the gold standard in oral hygiene maintenance, in addition to interdentally cleaning once a day. Interdental cleaning is perhaps the most neglected aspect of most patients’ oral hygiene routines, with one study showing that 68 per cent of adults don’t floss. Many dentists and dental hygienists have heard the same tale – that interdental cleaning is uncomfortable, or even painful for patients. There are numerous methods of interdental maintenance, however, and the efficacy of each one depends upon the patient’s dexterity and the size/shape of their interdental spaces. In light of this, dental professionals should be recommending a range of interdental cleaning methods, tailored to the patient and their individual needs – this can include traditional floss, interdental brushes or a water flosser.

Water flossers were developed in 1962, and have become a popular choice for interdental cleaning. They have been proven to be more effective than string floss in removing plaque and, due to their design, they can be comfortable to hold and manoeuvre when in use. Waterpik is proud to be the world’s number one water flosser brand and has developed a range of models to suit varying patient preferences. This solution is ideal for those with dental implants, crowns, bridges and veneers, helping patients remove bacteria from deep between the teeth and below the gum line. In fact, the Waterpik Water Flosser is more than two times as effective as string floss for cleaning around dental implants. Easy-to-use and needed for only a minute a day, the Waterpik Water Flosser can enrich patients’ oral hygiene routines at home.

Give patients what they need for good oral health

The removal of biofilm is pivotal in the prevention of oral diseases, and to reduce the risk of dental implant failure. Arming patients with tried and trusted solutions can help them to better care for their oral health at home, so they can enjoy the benefits that their dental implants offer for longer.

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