Dental implants are an excellent replacement solution for damaged or missing teeth because they have a more than 95% success rate. Their longevity depends on maintaining good oral hygiene habits and having regular dental checkups. While you might think that regularly brushing your teeth and gargling mouthwash are sufficient, they’re not good enough to reach every part of your mouth where food and bacteria may be lurking. This is where flossing comes in.
You already know the importance of flossing to protect your natural teeth, but the daily habit is equally essential if you have dental implants. Flossing is a good dental hygiene practice because it lifts and removes plaque and food between teeth. Brushes do a good job too, but their bristles can’t reach deep in between teeth.
Even though the artificial teeth cannot decay or get cavities, gum disease can occur around dental implants. Whether you have had one, two or a mouthful of implants, you will need to maintain your flossing routine or start one if flossing is new to you.
There are several reasons why flossing dental implants is essential. Key among them are:
To Remove Trapped Food Particles
Some types of food, such as popcorn and sticky candy, can only be effectively removed by flossing. Although trapped food particles will eventually loosen and fall away, it may take several weeks. The food will attract bacteria that can damage the enamel of natural teeth sitting next to your implant during that time. This may eventually lead to a gum infection.
To Help Prevent Gum Disease
Food particles are not only an irritation; they can also cause gum disease. They contribute to the formation of plaque which can develop into a mild gum disease called gingivitis. If left untreated, this develops into periodontal disease, a more severe problem that causes gum recession, loose teeth and tooth loss.
To Help Protect Jawbones
The jawbone can also be affected if trapped food and bacteria are not removed by brushing and flossing. An uncontrolled infection can spread to the jaw and may cause the implant to fail. If the infection is severe enough, you may need a bone graft before another implant can be placed.
To Prevent Peri-implantitis
Peri-implantitis is an inflammatory process affecting the soft and hard tissues surrounding dental implants. It is caused by bacteria and food gradually accumulating around implants and the gum line. It is very similar to gum disease and often results in implant failure if not treated. However, with regular flossing, you can prevent this type of localized infection.
Flossing with Dental Implants Tips
You can floss your dental implants before or after brushing your teeth. To clean around them, you need to:
- Use a length of dental floss measuring about 18 inches and gently slide it up and down between the teeth.
- You may want to use a floss threader, a helpful tool to get the floss underneath the prosthesis. Once the floss has been inserted into the threader, the ends of the flossing cord can easily be manipulated.
- Be sure to rub it along the side of the implant and crown so you can remove accumulations of bacteria and plaque.
- Move the floss around the tooth’s base, reaching under it to create a C-shape with the cord.
- After you have flossed between two teeth, gently pull the floss out.
- Then repeat the process on other teeth with a clean piece of floss.
- If using traditional floss is too tricky for you, try an oral irrigator, also known as a water flosser. This little device uses a stream of high-pressure water to loosen and dislodge food particles and plaque.
Always be gentle when flossing around dental implants because there is only a thin barrier between the implants and the underlying bone. In natural teeth, this barrier contains strong periodontal ligaments that can withstand excessive flossing force. However, during the implant procedure, these are removed. The barrier that remains can easily tear if subjected to aggressive flossing. This could allow bacteria, and consequently, infection to reach the underlying bone, which can cause bone loss and implant failure.
Questions About Dental Implant Maintenance?
If you’re nervous about flossing your teeth and implants, ask your dentist or dental hygienist for coaching tips. Flossing and brushing are crucial for maintaining good oral health after receiving dental implants, so take the time to ensure you are doing everything right.
Chesterfield Dentistry offers high-quality oral surgery services, including dental implants. To learn how to look after your artificial teeth properly or to ask anything else, schedule a consultation by calling us at (314) 682-4587 or using our online booking form.