Dental implants are an excellent solution for patients missing some or all of their teeth. They’re the most permanent method of tooth replacement, restoring the ability to bite, chew, speak, and smile with complete confidence once again. Your new smile can last for decades or even a lifetime, but only if you take proper care of them. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily are crucial practices to extend the longevity of your implants. With that in mind, here are a few things you should know about flossing with dental implants.
The Importance of Practicing Good Oral Hygiene
Some people believe that because dental implants are artificial, they don’t require the same care and maintenance as natural teeth. However, that’s far from true. Implants are still at risk of issues like periodontal (gum) disease, an infection triggered by plaque buildup. It can infect the underlying bone and cause it to deteriorate, resulting in loose implants and even implant failure. To prevent this from happening, you must brush and floss regularly to eliminate plaque, bacteria, and other debris from your implants.
Why You Need to Floss Carefully with Dental Implants
While flossing natural teeth, you’re able to push the string against the gum pocket without damaging your gums. That’s because the gums adhere strongly to the tooth via the ligament, which also contains nerves that will signal to you if you push too hard in the form of pain. Unfortunately, gums are not attached to dental implants via this periodontal ligament. As a result, you can break it easily, causing bacteria to enter the gum pocket and access the jawbone. That can ultimately lead to dental implant failure.
How to Floss Around Your Dental Implants
To protect your new smile, you must floss carefully around your dental implants with the help of a floss threader. It’s a small handheld device with a loop on one end and a stiff flat edge on the other. Here’s a step-by-step on how to use it:
- Break off about 18” of dental floss and thread it through the loop.
- Gently work the sharper end between the gums and bridge from the cheek side toward the tongue.
- Once through the tongue side, hold one end of the floss and pull the floss threader away with the other until the floss is underneath the bridge.
- Loop each end of the floss around your fingers on each hand. Work the floss up and down the sides of the nearest tooth or implant.
- Release one hand from the floss and pull it out from beneath the bridge.
- Rethread it in the threader and move on to the next section of the bridge.
Your dental implants can last a very long time if you keep them plaque-free. By following the tips outlined above, you can enjoy your new smile for as long as possible!
About the Author
Dr. Darren Koch has about 17 years of dentistry experience under his belt. He pursued his dental education at the University at Buffalo and earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree with honors in 2001. Since then, Dr. Koch obtained further training in cosmetic and implant dentistry. For more implant-care tips, visit our website or call (919) 859-6633.