January 30, 2016 - Roland Chong

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Welcome to issue thirteen of YOUR DENTAL CARE News.

In our twelfth issue we discussed about the nuts and bolts of implant teeth…. If you missed this issue please visit our website http://www.procarefamilydental.com.au/news.

In this issue we will address how implant prostheses should be maintained for life.

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Dental implant maintenance

A dental implant is used to replace missing teeth. The prosthesis is a titanium based bolt which is placed in the jaw bone and left to fuse to the bone. After which a crown or denture is attached to the implant prosthesis.

implant crown
Figure 1. Shows the components of a dental implant crown

Maintenance of dental implant.

The maintenance of the dental implant is important if you are to keep the prostheses for life. There are two main areas which can cause problems for the user.

These include biological and mechanical problems.

Biological issues often involve the bone integrated with the implant fixture. This can break down leading to the loss of the dental implant. A common condition called peri-implantitis, involves inflammation of the surrounding gums around the implant crown, significant bone loss can occur in some cases.

This condition has many levels of severity and not all individuals who experience this will lose their implants. Early intervention is crucial to prevent dental implant loss.

Mechanical problems often relate to the prosthesis itself. The dental implant is composed of 2 parts: the dental implant fixture in bone and the crown. Failure of either the screw securing the prosthesis to the fixture or the fixture itself.

Types of mechanical failure.

  1. The screw which attaches the crown to the dental implant fixture can come loose with function. The screw securing the prosthesis to the implant fixture can fracture. This happens when the prosthesis is not firmly attached. Retrieval of the broken screw is rather difficult. In extreme cases a new dental implant fixture needs to be reinserted into bone after the old one is removed.
  2. Screw loosening is quite a common problem but doesn’t occur frequently. This is often a simple problem to fix and requires access to the screw through the crown. Once the screw head is located it can be re-tightened.
  3. The porcelain of the prosthesis can chip or fracture, just like a conventional crown. This can be repaired in the laboratory, provided it is not a large piece missing

These are the most common, but not all of the problems we face with dental implant prostheses. Thankfully, these issues are not a frequent occurrence in most cases. There are simple ways to reduce the likelihood of problems occurring.

Regular 6 monthly examinations by a dentist is very important. Early detection of minor issues relating to the implant prostheses can be attended to immediately.  This avoids costly problems in the long term.

Caring for the implant prosthesis is no different to caring for your natural teeth. Adequate brushing around the crown including flossing will reduce the plaque burden on the surrounding tissues. This limits the likelihood of peri-implantitis occurring.

During function if the prostheses ‘feels’ loose or does not feel firm to finger pressure a quick visit to the dentist will save you a lot of pain. At no stage should the crown or denture be manipulated at home. If in doubt contact the dental surgery.

As always, keep on smiling!

Best wishes,

Dr Roland Chong

Roland Chong

Roland has over 18 years experience as a general dentist. Roland does all aspects of general dentistry with a special interest in prosthodontics (crown and bridge work) and cosmetic dentistry. A member of the International Team of Implantology, Roland is constantly developing his skills by collaborating with international experts.

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