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Dental Implant Health: Floss Is A Bust

Dental Implant Health: Floss Is A Bust

3 million people have dental implants and that number is growing by 500,000 per year. This area of dentistry demands more attention to life-long post-operative care than many dental professionals or patients could ever have imagined. There are even customized home care strategies that can contribute to the success of preventing peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis.

Has your practice invested in the technology, case presenting skills, and marketing strategy for dental implants? Unfortunately, an investment often missed, and a costly one, is the degree to which your team and patients understand the demands of post-operative health. If your patients don’t understand the needs their dental implants require, then their post-operative dental health may suffer.

Dental implant health is critical and often underestimated by patients. Think of it like this: how many edentulous patients do not take out their dentures at night even though you have informed them of the importance? How many patients may still be confused on the difference between gingivitis and gum disease? How many patients grasp the importance of plaque removal, yet still refuse to floss? Or how many who do actually floss, do so with efficacy?

On a related-note, your patients have most likely heard the term, or have had, gingivitis. Your job is to explain how this is also a possibility with dental implants, being peri-implant mucositis. The good news is that it is reversible, like gingivitis. An assumed go-to home care regimen consists of an electric toothbrush, floss and rinse. But patients need to watch out, because with dental implants, floss may do more harm than good. A recent study shows how fragments of floss attract plaque and bacteria and invite more problems to treat the infection than anyone would ever think.

While customized home care can be confusing, effective daily plaque removal must happen for gum health and the life of the dental implant. The preferred regimen includes interdental brushes or water flossers.

As an initial part of the process, you should fit your patient’s interdental space accordingly. Do this by determining the diameter or size that will effectively fill the interdental space to remove plaque without injury. Also, don’t forget single tuft brushes, which offer the luxury of a longer handle with bristle lengths ranging from 6-9mm, guaranteeing their access to areas in the mouth proven to be a challenge to access.

As time goes on, more dentists will be investing in training for placing dental implants. It is a service that offers hope to those who have ill-fitting dentures or missing teeth, so patient demand is only going to increase. Keep in mind that the success rate for dental implants is greatly improved when gum health and home care are fully understood by your patients. Have your team invest in customizing home care, founded on evidence-based research, when recommending products for dental implant patients.

Anastasia L. Turchetta, RDH
America’s Dental Hygienist


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