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Windsor Centre For Advanced Dentistry

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What is Peri-Implantitis?

Peri-implantitis is a condition that can affect patients with dental implants, causing complications.

Getting dental implants doesn’t mean you will develop peri-implantitis – it’s an avoidable and easily treatable condition, providing you take the necessary steps to care for your dental implants and have good dental hygiene routines in general.

Peri-implantitis explained

Peri-implantitis is an inflammatory disease that can affect the soft and hard gum tissues around dental implants.

The condition is caused when a dental implant becomes infected if food or debris becomes lodged in the implant, resulting in an infection.

There are two different types of peri-implantitis:

Peri-implant Mucositis

An infection around the gums and soft tissues surrounding the implant.

Peri-implantitis

Soft and hard tissue deterioration, which starts off as an infection in the gums and spreads to infect the bone. This can cause the bone to detach and disintegrate.

In the vast majority of cases, peri-implant mucositis occurs before peri-implantitis.

Diagram of a dental implant

Peri-implantitis symptoms

The symptoms of peri-implantitis are similar to gingivitis and will worsen as the infection progresses.

Common symptoms include:

  • Redness and swelling in the gums
  • Pain
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding or puss around the implant
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Fever

The risks of leaving peri-implantitis untreated

Leaving peri-implantitis untreated can lead to the damage of the tooth’s supporting structures and, ultimately, the failure of the implant.

In the early stages of the infection, known as peri-implant mucositis, only the gums are affected, meaning treatment is usually relatively straight forward and effective. However, if it is left untreated, the inflammation can spread to the bone that supports the root of the dental implant. At this point, the implant can fail, and the symptoms are harder to reverse.

Early signs of peri-implantitis 

The early signs of peri-implantitis are usually mild and you may not notice them at first. Early signs include:

  • Oral discomfort
  • Minor swelling near the implant area
  • General sensitivity in the mouth
  • Red gums
  • Bleeding of the gums, especially when brushing the teeth

Causes of peri-implantitis

Peri-implantitis can be caused by a number of risk factors including:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Poorly fitting crown or prosthesis
  • Over bulbous prosthesis or crown
  • A loose screw in the screw-retained crown
  • Excess cement left during the fitting of a crown
  • Incorrectly positioned implant
  • Incorrect implant design
  • Smoking
  • A history of periodontitis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Tooth grinding
  • Diabetes

Three tips to prevent peri-implantitis

Here are three tips to prevent peri-implantitis and keep your dental implants healthy:

Good dental hygiene

Good dental hygiene is important for everyone, but particularly those with dental implants. Brush and floss twice daily, and use an alcohol-free mouth wash.

Quit smoking

If you’re a smoker, now is the time to quit! Smoking can increase the risk of peri-implantitis and gum disease because your immune system won’t be as effective in fighting harmful bacteria, meaning you’re significantly more likely to develop infections.

Get your implants cleaned

Getting your implants cleaned and having regular check-ups will help prevent peri-implantitis from occurring. Any infection that does occur, will also be identified early so it can be treated quickly and easily.

Preparing treatment for peri-implantitis

Peri-implantitis treatment

The treatment for peri-implantitis will depend on the severity of the case. If, for example, the infection is detected at the mucositis stage, it can often be treated with good dental hygiene.

Treatments include:

Antibiotics

Antibiotics can help treat moderate peri-implantitis infections.

Mechanical removal

Devices such as titanium brushes, dental curettes, and air-abrasive and ultrasonic devices can be used to remove the bacterial plaque and restore the tissue.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy can be used to destroy the bacteria around the dental implant.

Surgery

Surgery is often the most effective way to treat peri-implantitis. There are a number of different surgical approaches, including pulling back the gum tissue to create flaps for removing the plaque and bacteria. Other approaches include bone grafts and regeneration.

If you have dental implants are experiencing symptoms of peri-implantitis or you’d like to find out more about caring for your dental implants, please get in touch. Our skilled and experienced team of surgeons will assess your requirements and answer any questions you might have. Give us a call to arrange your initial consultation today!

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