How to Ensure a Long Life for Your Dental Implants

Losing one or more teeth can have a profound psychological effect and one that dentures don't fix for everybody. For those whose confidence has taken a hit after tooth loss, dental implants offer a potential lifeline as a permanent alternative to dentures and have the ability to change lives.

Like any medical procedure, however, it's important to know what you're getting into before you decide whether or not to go ahead. Aside from the actual procedure and preparing for it, the aftercare routine is a long-term commitment. Implants can last the rest of your life if they're cared for properly, so you should get into good habits and follow the recommended procedures from day one.

Immediately after treatment

Following the initial surgery, your dentist will advise you on what you should do next. One of the most important things to do is bite on the gauze pad placed over the implanted area for at least an hour. This will then be replaced with a new gauze pad, which should be bitten on for as long as you're instructed to – normally at least six hours.

24 hours after the surgery, you should begin using a chlorhexidine mouthwash two to three times a day for the first week.

Some dentists won't perform implant surgery on smokers but if you do smoke, it's of the utmost importance that you don't do so following the treatment. You should also avoid alcohol for at least a week.

Once healing has completed and teeth or bridges have been fitted to the implants, you can begin the cleaning routine.

In the longer term

If you smoke, it's highly advisable that you try to stop. Many oral conditions are related to tobacco and implants can become problematic if you continue to smoke.

It's important now that you get into, and keep to, a strict oral hygiene routine. Brush thoroughly twice a day and use dental floss daily. You may find interdental brushes useful to reach every area of your mouth and clean all of the tooth surfaces.

To keep the implanted teeth in good condition, you may find you need to visit the dentist or hygienist more often. It's better to spot any developing problems early so they can be stopped in their tracks than it is to find out too late.

Because implants can be damaged just like natural teeth can, you should wear a mouthguard during any sport or activity where there's a risk of impacts to the mouth.