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Bone Loss Around Dental Implants – Peri-Implantitis

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Peri-implantitis, or bone loss around dental implants, is an inflammatory condition that affects the soft and hard gum tissue surrounding a dental implant. This condition can happen soon after the crown has been placed on the implant, other times it can happen years later. Most often the bone loss occurs without you even noticing. This condition is difficult to treat but fortunately not too many people develop it. 

Causes of Peri-implantitis

Because a dental implant is similar to your natural teeth, bacteria can build up around the base of the implant, below your gum line. Over time, the bacteria can irritate the gum tissue causing it to become inflamed. If it is not caught early, the bacteria can damage the tissue causing the bone structure beneath the implant to deteriorate. 

Types of Peri-Implantitis

There are two types of peri-implant conditions. They are:

  • Peri-implant mucositis – gum inflammation around the soft tissues of the dental implant with no signs of bone loss. This is the beginning stage of peri-implantitis and, if caught early, can be treated successfully and the condition reversed.
  • Peri-implantitis – deterioration in the bone that supports the dental implant and typically requires surgical treatment

Symptoms of Peri-Implantitis

Most patients don’t know that they have bone loss around their dental implant because it is generally painless. Once it is established, you may experience symptoms, including:

  • Gums that are tender or red around the implant
  • Bleeding when brushing your teeth
  • Deepened pocket formation around the gums
  • Pus around the implant and gums
  • Loss of supporting bone on an X-ray
  • Metal thread exposure
  • Swollen glands in your neck
  • Unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Jaw pain

Causes of Peri-Implantitis

Risk factors that contribute to the development of peri-implantitis include:

  • A history of periodontal disease
  • An excessive amount of dental plaque
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Compromised immune system

Treatment of Peri-Implantitis

The goal of treatment is to stop the progression of bone loss and maintain your dental implants. This can be done by your dentist and with home care. Your dentist will need to clean the area thoroughly. Antibiotics may be prescribed and special medication may need to be applied to the implants. Most peri-implantitis conditions require surgery and bone grafts to regenerate bone. 

Prevention of Peri-Implantitis

While peri-implantitis can be treated, it can be prevented. Proper care of your dental implants and a daily oral care routine will prevent this condition. Some of the steps needed for prevention include:

  • Regularly brushing your teeth using a soft-bristle brush to prevent damage to your implant
  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day to reduce plaque and bacteria
  • Flossing every day
  • Using an antimicrobial mouthwash that doesn’t contain alcohol or whitening agents
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