If you’ve recently had dental surgery, you may want to read on. A dental implant mimics your natural tooth and is secured into your jaw bone like a screw. When dental implants are placed, they bond with your own bone and serve as a foundation for one or multiple artificial teeth, called crowns. It requires undergoing a medical procedure, and there are risks of infection afterwards.
After dental implant surgery, you may think that you’ve solved your dental health problem for good, but this isn’t always the case. Implants can get infected months or even years later. If the implant becomes infected after surgery, no matter when, you should contact your dentist. Be forewarned – the best course of action may be to remove the implant and replace it.
Almost half of all dental implant patients experience some sort of infection. If you can spot the symptoms early on in the infection, the better, as you will lessen the chance of damage. If you leave an infection too long, it can weaken your jaw bone or worse. Surrounding teeth may need to be removed, and the infection could spread to your sinuses and soft tissues.
The best treatment for a dental implant infection is preventative. Excellent oral hygiene and a competent oral surgeon are the best ways to avoid the pain of dental implant infection.
Here are signs that your dental implant may be infected:
- Gum swelling: This is normal after dental surgery. Your gums will swell, but they shouldn’t stay swollen, and the swelling shouldn’t spread. Redness indicates infection, and infection can spread throughout your mouth and eventually into your blood, which is very serious. If you find that the pain or swelling in your mouth is not lessening, but in fact increasing, call your dentist immediately.
- Pain: Although pain is associated with the healing process of a dental implant, there is such a thing as too much pain. If the pain you’re feeling radiates throughout your mouth or jaw, or is especially sharp, your dental implant may be infected. If the pain is increasing, not decreasing, you should call your dentist.
- Pus or bleeding: Pus is made up of dead white blood cells. If you begin to see a lot of pus or blood, even if it’s just while brushing, you may have a dental implant infection.
- Fever: Fever is your body’s response to bacteria and infection. If you’re running one in combination with any other of these symptoms, your dental implant may be infected.
- Trouble chewing: An implant is supposed to be just like your tooth, so if you’re feeling pain or any other discomfort when you’re eating, it’s a sign that something’s off with your implant. Just as pain while chewing can indicate a cavity in a natural tooth, pain while chewing can indicate that an implant is infected.
- Unsecured implants: Your implants should feel as natural in your mouth as your own teeth. In fact you shouldn’t be able to tell the difference, if done well. If your implants feel very conspicuous in your mouth or they wiggle and move around at all, you should immediately contact your dentist.
- Halitosis and bad taste: In the case of low-quality implant materials, when they break down they will emit a bad smell, and will make your mouth taste horribly and your breath stink. If you brush, floss, and rinse, and the situation doesn’t resolve itself and your mouth doesn’t start to taste and smell better, your dental implant may be infected.
What can you do about it?
As stated before, the best way to maintain your dental implants is by maintaining an excellent dental health regimen. Consider investing in an electric toothbrush since these mimic dentists’ tools closely. Even better than a sterling dental routine is picking a knowledgeable and competent dentist, like the ones at the practice of Andrew Satlin. D.D.S.
If you’ve recently (or not so recently) had dental implant surgery and are suddenly feeling an increase in pain or swelling, or discomfort or movement in your bite, you want to contact an expert. No one likes a toothache, and the sooner you call, the sooner a professional can help you to a pain-free mouth.