Dental implants work to restore your smile while also improving the functionality of your teeth. These implants will be fused into your jawbone so that they look and function like natural teeth. Since they are capped with dental crowns, most people will never be able to tell that you even have implants.
Dental implants need to be placed with oral surgery so that they can properly integrate into the jaw. While this procedure is quite safe and carries minimal risk, like any surgery, the risk of infection is always present. Fortunately, there are certain steps that you can take to further reduce this already low risk.
Preparing For Your Dental Implants
When preparing for your implant surgery, it is important that you discuss your health conditions and any medications that you are taking with your dentist. Certain medical conditions like diabetes can affect healing times and may make you more prone to infection. Fully disclosing this information can help your dentist to develop a treatment plan that will reduce your chances of developing an infection after the procedure.
Your chances of developing an infection with a dental implant are quite low to begin with. However, there are a few tips that you can follow to lower this likelihood even further:
- Rinse your mouth with salt water. While this isn’t recommended during the first day of your recovery, gently rinsing your mouth out with salt water during the rest of your recovery can help to control the bacteria while your wound heals.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking introduces a ton of bacteria into the mouth, and this can jeopardize your body’s ability to heal properly. Avoiding smoking in the week prior to your surgery and the week after is especially important.
- Keep brushing. Keep up with your brushing and dental hygiene routine after your implants have been placed in order to keep the area clean and free of bacteria.
- Switch to a soft diet. In the weeks following your implant placement, soft foods should be eaten, and you should avoid gum and food items that are especially chewy or hard.
One of the greatest ways to ensure that you are minimizing your chance of developing an infection is to find the right dentist. Highly skilled and qualified implant surgeons will use rigorous quality-control methods in order to restore the appearance and function of your teeth while minimizing the likelihood of a complication.
How To Treat An Infection
Although the risk of developing an infection with dental implants is minimal, there are two varieties that are sometimes experienced: peri-implantitis and peri-implant mucositis. The former affects the tissues of the bone and gums, while the latter only affects the gum tissue. Both resemble the symptoms of gum disease and will cause inflammation of the nearby tissue.
In most cases, antibiotics can easily treat infections that occur after dental implants. This is especially true if the infection is maintained within the gums. If you notice signs of infection, including increased or persistent bleeding, swelling, or pain, it is important to contact your dentist so that the appropriate medication can be started.
Last Reviewed by Dr. Eli Friedman on December 18, 2020