What is Peri-Implantitis?

Peri-implantitis is an infection that hurts gums, bones and other tissues surrounding dental implants. It is very similar to gum disease. Severity can range from minor inflammation of the gums to severe degradation of the teeth and jaw. If left untreated, this often leads to patients losing their dental implants and developing other serious dental problems.

Peri-implantitis is caused by the bacteria and food particles that gradually accumulate around dental implants and gum lines. For this reason, peri-implantitis tends to grow unnoticed in its early stages. However, later symptoms can become severe. Ranging from minor to dangerous, symptoms include:

  • Redness and inflammation of the surrounding gum tissue.
  • Deepening of the gum pockets around the implant.
  • Exposure or visibility of the implant threads.
  • Loosening of the implant.
  • Pus discharging from the tissues around the implant.
  • Loss of supporting bone.
  • Bleeding upon being probed.
  • Swollen lymph nodes around the neck.

Peri-implantitis if left untreated can progress to severe stage and eventually lead to implant loss.  If caught early, and with adequate supervision from a competent dentist, peri-implantitis can be treated before it ever causes undue discomfort or embarrassment.

What is the cause of peri-implantitis?

There are three primary factors that influence your susceptibility to peri-implantitis:

  • Prior disease: patients affected by a disease that affects the whole body (known as systemic disease) can be extra susceptible to peri-implantitis. If you have diabetes or another systemic disease, consult with your dentist about your dental implants. Patients with periodontal disease can be at a higher risk to developing another mouth infection, like peri-implantitis.
  • Oral hygiene: If not cared for, plaque and tartar that are full of harmful bacteria and pathogens can easily build up around teeth and gums. These degrade tissue and cause irritation and infection. Other social factors can cause peri-implantitis, like smoking and drug abuse. What you put in your mouth affects your mouth; we advise extreme caution regarding what you place in your body.
  • Parafunctional habits: an easier term for this is “involuntary habit.” In this case, peri-implantitis is isolated to habits like involuntarily grinding your teeth in your sleep (bruxism), poorly positioning your teeth – either due to misalignment or poor muscle control – when the jaw is fully closed (malocclusion), nail biting and thumb sucking.

How can I avoid peri-implantitis?

Ways to avoid peri-implantitis:

  • Good oral hygiene:
  • Brush your teeth frequently (at least 2 x a day for 2 minutes with a powerbrush – Sonicare is preferred)
  • Use dental floss or other aides recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist, such as Proxysoft Bridge and Implant Floss or TEPE compact tuft brush.
  • If you suffer from any oral parafunctional habits (unconscious or involuntary habits with your mouth), like teeth grinding, poor jaw alignment or nail biting, seek help. Your dentist can provide several suggestions or treatments for these habits before they adversely affect your health.
  • Make sure you have a dental specialist perform dental implant surgery or to treat your peri-implantitis.  Periodontists are also implant specialists, with solid experience and advanced training in proper techniques.  Poor dental work can make your personal oral hygiene difficult and painful, and can expose you to pathogens later.If you are considering dental implants or if you feel you may have peri-implantitis, give us a call! You will receive excellent care. We want you to have a healthy mouth, and we know how to help you get it!

How is peri-implantitis treated?

Sometimes, surgical therapy is necessary to repair the damage from peri-implantitis.  Dr. Britten offers the latest technology in dental implant surgery, using both a “flap” type of procedure, or the use of  Laser Assisted Peri-Implantitis Protocol, or LAPIP. The LAPIP protocol uses a laser to target the bacteria that cause peri-implantitis without disrupting the stability of the implant itself. Using a laser, we can remove necrotic tissue, infection, anaerobes and other undesirables from the implant surface and surrounding periodontal structures.

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