If you’re missing a tooth, you are probably considering options to replace the missing tooth, such as a dental implant. While dental implants are the most durable tooth-replacement option, they still can have complications, such as peri-implantitits. If you are considering getting an implant or you already have an implant, use this guide to learn more about this potential complication.
What Is Peri-Implantitis?
After you get an implant, the crown and titanium root will be invulnerable to decay, but your gums and jawbone can still be negatively impacted. When infection attacks the gums around the implant, they become inflamed, causing peri-implant mucositis. At this stage, only the gums are affected. Treatment is usually successful if caught at this stage.
If the problem continues, however, the inflammation reaches the bone supporting the dental implant’s titanium root. This causes the implant to lose stability and be more likely to fail. At this point, the symptoms will not reverse on their own because your body will not naturally regrow gum tissue or bone tissue.
What Causes It to Occur?
As with many conditions, there is no single cause for peri-implantitits, but there are many risk factors, which may increase your chances. In fact, peri-implantitis is so common that more than 28 percent of patients with dental implants develop this inflammation.
You can help avoid it by continuing good oral hygiene to avoid gum disease. If you smoke, quit now. The chemicals in tobacco restrict blood flow, and the area around the implant needs lots of fresh, healthy oxygenated blood. Certain medical conditions that affect healing and blood flow can also increase your risk. Unfortunately, some patients are simply genetically sensitive to the condition.
What Are the Symptoms?
Advanced peri-implantitis presents with severe symptoms, but at first, you may hardly notice any. Look for bleeding, tender, and red gums around the implant. In some cases, you may not notice the tenderness or bleeding unless you apply pressure to the gums such as from flossing or brushing. Some patients may even see, taste, or smell pus inside the mouth from the infection.
As the condition worsens, you may notice your implant begins to move a little, which can also cause pain. If the condition causes the gums to recede, you may begin to see the titanium root or bone loss. If the symptoms are still minimal, they may reverse on their own, but most likely, you’ll need professional treatments to reverse the effects.
What Treatments Are Available?
The first step is to fight the infection and inflammation. Your dentist will help with this by performing deep cleanings and providing special antibiotics. If you have any condition that affects your oral health, such as diabetes, you will also need to seek treatment for those. However, if you already have peri-implantitis, more advanced treatments are needed.
While non-surgical treatments like laser and air abrasive systems are available, they don’t seem to work well. This leaves surgery as the only choice for many patients. If bone and gum tissue has been lost, you may need grafts, and depending on the extent of the damage, the implant may need to be removed and replaced.
Dental implants are one of the best ways to replace missing teeth because they are so durable and may even last for the rest of your life. However, unless you take great care of your teeth and gums after treatment, problems can arise.
Peri-implantitis causes a lot of pain and wasted money. If you would like to know more about peri-implantitits or dental implants in general, contact us at Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA today.