Most dental implants are made of titanium. Titanium isn't just one of the strongest metals in existence, it is also one of the lightest. This is why it is used to build aircraft and spacecraft parts, armour plating, and joint replacements among many other things. However, despite its many strengths, titanium is not invulnerable.
Just like your natural teeth, you need to clean your dental implants. However, it is important to understand the differences between dental implants and natural teeth when it comes to keeping them clean.
Dental Implants Are Fused to the Jawbone
Titanium is the most biocompatible metal available to doctors and dentists today. It does not corrode when in contact with bodily fluids, is light and is the only metal that is osteophilic, meaning it stimulates bone growth. However, because titanium implants are fused to bone, they are more susceptible to infection than natural teeth.
Natural Teeth Are Attached By Periodontal Ligaments
Although dental implants are similar to natural teeth in many ways, they do lack one important element. Unlike dental implants, which are attached to bone, natural teeth have a periodontal ligament. The periodontal ligament is a layer of tissue that connects to bone on one side and the tooth root on the other side.
The fibres that connect a tooth to bone bring nutrients and cells to the tooth via blood vessels. This allows natural teeth to fight off infections, such as gum disease. Since dental implants have no such connection, infections can quickly get out of hand. However, that is not the only reason to keep your dental implants clean.
Dental Implants Have Deeper Gum Pockets
Gum tissues are attached to natural teeth by collagen fibres. This means that the pockets around natural teeth are about 2-3mm. More than that is considered unhealthy. However, since dental implants are only connected to gum tissue via a suction mechanism, their gum pockets may be as deep as 6mm.
Considering that dental implants do not have the same defence against infection as natural teeth, gum pocket depth is important. If your oral hygiene is lacking, plaque and tartar may build up around your implants. Since the gum pockets are deeper and there is little protection against infection, bacteria can invade these pockets and cause the bone to deteriorate.
If the bone around your implants deteriorates, you may lose your implants. That's why it is important to go for a dental cleaning every 3 months. You should also brush and floss around your implants. When brushing, brush at a 45 degree angle so that the bristles can clean out the pockets around your implants. Do this and your implants should last a lifetime.