Dental implants have long been periodontists' method of choice for fixing lost or broken teeth. Since their entry to the market in the 1960s, implant designs have evolved and improved such that today, implant placement procedures have a 95% long-term success rate. Despite this high success rate, however, some patients do experience infection in the days and weeks following their surgery. 

Many factors can lead to peri-implant disease, or disease in the gums or soft tissues. Some of these factors are out of the patient's control. For example, poorly fitted implants can allow bacteria to enter the wound site following surgery, causing infection.

The risk of these complications can be greatly reduced by choosing an experienced and reputable dentist to undertake your surgery. However, some risk factors are entirely within the patient's hands, and many take only a few simple steps to control. Read on for four tips on preventing peri-implant disease after your surgery.

1. Avoid Using Tobacco After Surgery

Periodontists warn that although implant surgeries have a very high success rate, implant failures are twice as likely to occur in smokers than non-smokers. Smoking reduces blood flow to the gums, which slows the healing process and inhibits your body's ability to fight off infection. It also causes mouth dryness, which provides an ideal environment for bacteria to flourish. 

For these reasons, it is important to refrain from any form of tobacco use, smoking or chewing, for at least one week before your surgery date and two weeks afterwards. The jury is still out on the effects of e-cigarettes on oral health, so if you can, avoid these as well.

2. Keep Up the Hygiene Routine

Dental hygiene is important for everybody, but after surgery, your teeth will need extra attention. Ensure you follow your dentist's instructions and use mouthwash at the specified interval each day. Use a soft toothbrush to clean your other teeth, and make sure you avoid the implant site. If your dentist has prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection, be sure to take them until the course is complete.

Flossing can be frustrating at the best of times, but after surgery, using dental floss is essential to clear away any infection-causing bacteria that may have settled between your teeth during the day. You will need to floss gently for the first week after your surgery to avoid pain.

3. Eat Soft Foods

Implant patients do not have to go as far as tonsillectomy patients and eat only ice cream, but maintaining a diet of soft foods is important to avoid putting stress on the jaw. Stick to foods such as yoghurt, smoothies, eggs or soft bread, and avoid anything that requires extended chewing to swallow. Soups and broth are an excellent option for a complete meal, as are soft grains with mixed vegetables.

How long you eat soft foods depends on the type of surgery you have undergone, but a general guide is at least one week.

4. Don't Let Small Problems Turn Into Big Ones

Minor infections around the surgery site can usually be treated with some disinfecting treatment at the dentist's office and a course of antibiotics. However, if not treated early, minor infections can pose a significant hazard to your new implants.

Peri-implantitis, one of the most common implant infections, attacks the implant's connection to the underlying bone. If caught early, this disease can often be easily treated, but as the infection becomes worse, the chances of preventing implant failure become slim. For this reason, it is important to keep an eye out for unusual discolouring, discharge, taste or bleeding, and see your dentist as soon as possible if these occur.

Dental implant surgery has a low failure rate of less than 5%, but why take more risk than needed? Minimise your chances of misfortune by having your dental implants placed by one of the experienced dentists at Cambridge City Dental.