Dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth. Although they are typically successful and long-lasting tooth replacement options, sometimes they can develop periodontal issues called peri-implant diseases, which are inflammatory conditions that affect the soft tissue and bone around dental implants. Peri-implant diseases must be treated to avoid implant failure and maintain overall periodontal health in the mouth to prevent severe infections that could affect overall health.
Although dental implants are titanium posts that cannot decay, they can still build plaque and calculus like natural teeth. This means that harmful bacteria that cause gum disease can also affect an implant causing peri-implant infections. If it is not caught and treated promptly, these infections can cause the bone around the implant to deteriorate, risking the life of the implant.
TYPE OF PERI-IMPLANT DISEASES
There are two types of peri-implant diseases that can be treated by our periodontist:
- Peri-implant Mucositis – This is a gum inflammation around the soft tissues of the dental implant only, evidence of bone loss. Often, peri-implant mucositis leads to the more advanced disease, peri-implantitis if not caught early. Typically, peri-implant mucositis can be treated with non-surgical periodontal therapy.
- Peri-implantitis – This is a gum inflammation around the soft tissue and bone where deterioration of the bone supporting the dental implant is present. Because of bone infection and deterioration, peri-implantitis usually requires surgical periodontal treatment.
SIGNS OF PERI-IMPLANT DISEASES
Signs and symptoms of peri-implant disease are often like the typical symptoms of gum disease such as gum redness, bleeding, tenderness, or inflammation at the implant area. As implant infections advance, patients may notice more bleeding, pus, swelling, or even a loose feeling around their implant. They also may have more noticeable pain in the area.
If you have any of these signs and symptoms, it is imperative that you contact a periodontist for an evaluation. Prompt attention to peri-implant diseases is the best way to preserve your implant.
Keep in mind that you can have bone loss around an implant without any signs or symptoms, which is why regular dental visits are an essential part of implant maintenance.
RISK FACTORS FOR PERI-IMPLANT DISEASE
Several factors may increase your risk of peri-implant disease such as poor homecare, lack of dental care, diabetes, and smoking. Patients who grind or clench their teeth or have malocclusion, are also at higher risk. If you are in a higher risk category, your dentist may recommend that you have more frequent dental cleanings to keep your mouth healthy and reduce your risks. If you are at high risk for periodontal diseases, you will be advised to alternate dental cleanings between your regular dental office and your periodontal office.
Typically, for peri-implant mucositis, treatment is non-surgical such as a special cleaning around the implant using ultrasonic tools, prescription rinses for irrigation, and placement of the antibiotic gel in the infected site. These simple treatments help to kill the harmful bacteria that is causing the soft tissue infection.
For patients who present with peri-implantitis, surgical treatment may be required. That treatment can include laser therapy or bone grafting to try to disinfect the pocket around the implant and encourage healthy bone regrowth around the implant.
If the peri-implantitis is severe, it may require removal of the implant so that your periodontist can treat the infected bone and replace it with health graft material. Unfortunately, severe peri-implantitis is harder to treat with no guarantees of saving an implant. However, choosing the right periodontist who is skilled in the latest technologies helps to improve your chances of success.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PERIODONTIST
Our periodontist, Dr. Fullem treats many patients with peri-implant disease. Many of the patients we treat have had their implants placed elsewhere. After treatment of the infection is complete, our periodontist works collaboratively with an on-site team of dental implant specialists to evaluate your case so that if you choose future implants, you can rest assured that implant health is our top priority.
Here at the Pennsylvania Center for Periodontology, we are here to help you understand your risks and reduce them. We understand that dental implant health is connected to your overall health, which is why we are committed to treating your peri-implant diseases.
If you think you might be experiencing peri-implantitis symptoms, we are here to help. Our periodontist in Enola, PA has years of experience in treating peri-implant diseases.
Contact us for an appointment for an evaluation of your implant today!