Can Dental Implants Contribute To Gum Disease?

Gingivitis is an unpleasant inflammation of your gums that can precede a more serious infection. It can be traced back to the health of your teeth—namely the oral bacteria that has formed a harmful biofilm (dental plaque) on your teeth. This plaque can harden and become tartar, and the tooth may be actively decaying under this bacteria. Uncontrolled bacteria will also aggravate your gums, leading to gingivitis and more serious periodontal infections. Can a dental implant contribute to gum disease in any way? 

Natural and Synthetic

You might think that dental implants are immune to the problems that can affect a natural tooth (and its roots and other support structures). Natural teeth are just that—natural. Organic matter can decay, and since a dental implant is made of titanium and its prosthetic tooth is ceramic, surely decay won't be a problem—because these materials can't decay.

Bacteria and Prosthetic Teeth

The various components of a dental implant can't degrade in the same way as organic matter. But this isn't the whole picture. Consider the ceramic tooth attached to your dental implant. It can't decay or develop cavities. But it can still experience dental plaque and tartar. Although the structure of the ceramic tooth won't be affected, bacterial accumulation still has the ability to affect your gums.

In Your Gums

Gum disease around a dental implant is particularly risky. It's a potential danger to all teeth, but bacterial colonization of the titanium implant embedded in your gums can cause a serious infection of those tissues. This can be painful and look unpleasant (the gums will look red and swollen). Without prompt treatment, the infection can spread beyond your gingival tissues and into your jaw. 

In Your Bone

A dental infection that reaches the jawbone is very serious indeed. While natural teeth could be at risk under these circumstances, natural tissues can repair themselves (when given a helping hand from a dentist). The synthetic components of your dental implant can't stabilize themselves in this way. The titanium implant in your jaw will lose its integration with the bone (as an advanced infection can destroy bone tissue). The implant will loosen and will require removal. 

A High Level

To prevent this unpleasant scenario, you must always maintain an impeccable level of oral hygiene. Treat your dental implant as though it was a natural tooth. Brush it, floss around it, and employ any other hygiene measures recommended by your dentist. And always have any gum inflammation around an implant inspected by your dentist. Early infections can be successfully treated without jeopardizing your implant.

The synthetic components of a dental implant can't decay or become infected. But your gums and bone around the implant certainly can. For more information on dental implants, contact a professional near you.