Dental implants have gained significant popularity over the past few decades. Thanks to advances in dental technology and better materials, those with broken or damaged teeth can now get their bright dentitions restored. Many experienced dentists, like Allure Dental, encourage their clients to consider dental implants over other dental replacement options. Because dental implants offer better aesthetics and durability.

Given the longevity of dental implants and the advantages that come with them, it is surprising that they can be the source of infections. 

Technically, dental infections like gum diseases cannot attack the dental implant itself because the latter is made of non-living material. However, infections can develop around the tissue where the dental implant is anchored. While uncommon, such gum infections can lead to undesirable outcomes. Such outcomes may include the removal of the dental implant entirely.

Peri-Implant Diseases

Periodontal diseases like gingivitis are common when poor oral hygiene is involved. However, when they develop as a result of dental implants, then they’re termed peri-implant diseases. 

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to an attack by microorganisms or other foreign substances. It is characterised by swollen and reddened tissues and increased blood flow to such parts, among other manifestations. The peri-implant disease causes an inflammatory response in and around the gum area of the dental implant, leading to pain and the gradual loosening of the implant. The buildup of bacteria at the root of the dental implant, coupled with poor oral hygiene, plays a crucial role in developing such inflammatory reactions and subsequent peri-implant disease.

Such inflammation causes tissue damage in the gum area, compromising the dental function’s longevity, aesthetic appeal, and function.

Common Types of Peri-implant Diseases 

  1. Peri-Implantitis: This is when the inflammatory response is so severe that the damage goes deep. In addition to destroying both the soft and hard tissues, the inflammation extends into the bone area holding the dental implant. Surgery is the solution to this condition.
  2. Peri-Implant Mucositis: This is when the inflammation is only superficial and confined to the soft gum tissue. While it will exhibit signs like soreness and redness, the damage hasn’t extended to the bone. However, progression to peri-implantitis is inevitable if prompt treatment is not administered.

Signs of Peri-Implant Disease

The signs of peri-implant disease are similar to those of many other dental conditions like gingivitis. In addition to the classic signs of an inflammatory response like redness and swelling, the following may also be seen:

  • Bad breath, much like in halitosis
  • Bleeding, especially from the gum area at the base of the dental implant. The bleeding tends to be aggravated with slight trauma, as in vigorous teeth brushing.
  • Gum recessions. This is when the gums appear to shrink back into the jawbone structure. There may or may not be pus formation.
  • A tell-tale sign of peri-implant disease is when the metal threads of the dental implant become visible. This is cause enough for seeking immediate dental assistance.

Also Read: What are the Effects of Smoking on Oral Health?

Odds of Getting Peri-Implant Disease 

As with most body surfaces, the mouth is home to numerous bacteria. They are part of normal flora—the body’s expected bacterial population. Many bacteria in the mouth are harmless, although a significant portion of them are. The harmful ones are those that cause peri-implant disease and all its associated consequences, like bad breath.

The chances of getting the peri-implant disease are high when:

  • There is poor oral hygiene. Those that don’t brush properly and regularly are more vulnerable to gum disease. When a dental implant is in place, the person may need to adopt other mouth-cleaning techniques. It’s always best to raise this issue with your dentist right after getting the dental implant.
  • There is a history of periodontal disease. Such individuals are more likely to develop peri-implant disease than those that have never had one.
  • Health conditions like diabetes. Diabetes is when the body cannot effectively control how well it uses sugar for energy production. It leads to many other health complications. Susceptibility to certain infections like peri-implant disease is one of them.
  • An improperly-placed dental implant. A dentist may not have put the dental implant in the right place due to inexperience or carelessness. Sometimes, the dentist forgets to clean all the cement from the other tooth surfaces after using it to anchor the crown. This increases the chances of getting gum disease.

All in all, dental implants are a great option for tooth replacement. However, they can also be the source of gum diseases if not done well.

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