While infections caused by implants aren’t particularly common, they can have devastating effects, especially to older individuals that have several implants fitted. During the surgical process, a dentist will need to cut into the gum and bone in order to remove any dental remains and fit a metal structure that your implant will be attached to. But, if this stricture is not inserted properly, or the surgical wounds don’t heal, you may find yourself facing severe infections that lead to additional tooth loss as well as bone loss and even severe illness. These infections can also cause nerve damage and can even affect your sinuses.
In a previous we addressed the effects and symptoms of ill-fitting dentures and implants. Peri-implantitis is a condition whereby the gum and surrounding the implant becomes inflamed. As more of supporting bone is lost the implant can become loose and it is a difficult condition to treat or even notice due to it being a mostly painless process. In recent years, this problem has become more common due to the changing designs of implants. More dentists are using implants with rougher surfaces to increase the contact area between the gums and implant to improve anchorage and to integration into the bone. But, the issue with these types of implants is that they are more prone to developing bacterial biofilms that lead to infections.
At the University of Belgium earlier this year, researchers came to design a new kind of dental implant that is capable of fight infection. The implant has a built-in reservoir that is filled with a powerful antimicrobial called Chlorhexidine which is often found in mouthwash and oral rinses. The titanium structure of the implant is porous, so over time the drug is very slowly released and prevents the development of harmful plaque. The implant is also able to eliminate plaque that has already formed. Potentially, these implants could fight and cure infections in dental patients and prevent dangerous bone loss.
For the time being, more research is still being done into this type of implant and there is still some time before they might be put in patients. Certain issues such as the possible clogging of the implants porous material as well as whether or not it can fulfil the implant is strong enough to endure daily use still need to be looked into. But, this research has broadened horizons and given the industry a new perspective on what implants could and should be capable of in the future as well as how they can be utilised to improve a person’s oral health. Rather than simply replacing a tooth, a good implant could become an important tool to improve and protect a person’s oral health, which could possibly reduce the amount of infection related oral health issues in the future.
In the meantime, while this implant is still being developed, you can protect your implant from infection be cleaning it thoroughly as well as using an antimicrobial mouthwash which can be found in our best mouthwash options. You should be flossing and brushing on a daily basis, paying extra attention to the gum line around your implant and possibly using a water flosser to eliminate plaque in hard-to-reach places.