What You Should Know About Peri-Implantitis

Dental implants are an excellent option when it comes to replacing missing teeth, if proper home care, good life choices, and a regular cleaning schedule are followed.  But if not, patients can develop a gum infection around their implant like you see around natural teeth and this infection is called a Peri-Implant disease.

As defined by the American Academy of Periodontology, Peri-implant diseases are inflammatory conditions affecting the soft and hard gum tissues around dental implants.  Similar to a natural tooth, bacteria can build up on the base of the implant, below the gum line. Over time, the bacteria irritate the gum tissue, causing it to become inflamed, damaging the tissue and if not caught early, causing the bone structure below the implant to deteriorate.

Two Categories of classification for Peri-implant diseases:

In peri-implant mucositis, gum inflammation is found only around the soft tissues of the dental implant, with no signs of bone loss.  Generally, peri-implant mucositis is a precursor to peri-implantitis. Evidence suggests that peri-implant mucositis may be successfully treated and is reversible if caught early

In peri-implantitis, gum inflammation is found around the soft tissue and there is deterioration in the bone supporting the dental implant. Peri-implantitis usually requires surgical treatment.

Patients may find that signs and symptoms typically seen in peri-implant diseases are similar to symptoms of gum disease around our teeth.  Gums may be red or tender around the implants, or may experience bleeding when brushing in that area.  Implants act as your natural teeth, and require regular brushing and flossing and cleanings from a dental professional at a proper interval.  Take note that in some cases, other risk factors such as previous diagnosis of periodontal disease, the inability to control plaque around your teeth, diabetes, and smoking could pre-dispose you to peri-implant disease.  It is essential that your dentist routinely monitor your dental implants as part of a comprehensive periodontal evaluation with periodic x-rays and by measuring the tissue health with a periodontal probe.

Similarities of dental implants and natural teeth are a wonderful thing, but we should remain aware that implants are capable of becoming diseased just like a natural tooth.  But with proper home care and professional oral health routine with your dentist, your dental implant can last a lifetime.

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