Anne Symons: Waterpik, Oral Health, and Implant Stability

Health & Hygiene
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Dental hygienist Anne Symons discusses Waterpik, oral health, and implant stability

Dental hygienist Anne Symons (below) is currently working in a specialist periodontal/implant practice and also a busy NHS surgery. Anne is a Professional Educator for Waterpik and has written the following article on Waterpik’s behalf.

Dental implants have become an increasingly popular treatment option over the past decade. According to the Association of Dental Implantology around 130,000 individual implants are placed each year in the UK, providing life-enhancing functional and aesthetic benefits to edentulous patients.

Successful implant therapy is defined not only by the immediate achievement of the therapeutic goal, but, importantly, by the maintenance of a functional, stable, and aesthetically acceptable restoration. But it proves difficult to measure of the average longevity of implant treatment, with some studies deeming “success” as “survival”, with even “ailing” or “failing” implants considered successful.

Hartog and co-workers reported a survival rate of 95.5% after one year, and a study reporting 20-year data on implants reported a success/survival rate of 75.8 to 89.5%. So, while the success rate is generally positive, there is clearly some potential for maximising the longevity of implants, avoiding further oral health issues, or costly surgical replacements for failed implants.

Factors affecting the longevity of dental implants include infection management. Early treatment failures are often attributed to failed osseointegration, usually due to bacterial infection, bone necrosis, surgical trauma, inadequate initial stability, or premature occlusal loading.

As we know, it’s vital to assess a patient’s mouth for any active gingival disease before treatment as untreated infection could spread and develop around the implant, resulting in failure. While bacterial infection can occur at any time during the implant process, it is of particular concern in the early healing period.

Late failure is also often caused infection. Jemt et al., reported that a history of periodontitis was closely linked with inflammation at the implant site that could cause peri-implantitis, which may be due to the transmission of periodontal pathogens from the teeth to the implant.

While it seems that smoking alone does not increase the incidence of late implant failure, it is best to make patients aware of the potential impact of the habit on the success and longevity of their dental implant treatment, over and above its implications for their wider health.

For example, a study by Queiroz et al., found an increased presence of salivary arginase activity in smokers with dental implants that results in an increased susceptibility to bacterial infection and implant failure. Thanks to all these factors it becomes clear that infection management should be a focus before, during and after implant treatment.

Patients must be made aware of the importance of good oral hygiene as an integral part of infection prevention and management, and to ensure the long-term survival of their implant(s) and there are a number of at-home implant care methods that can improve and maintain a patient’s oral hygiene.

Twice daily cleaning around implants using a soft bristled toothbrush or gentle power brush is recommended to remove bacterial plaque accumulation. For patients prone to occasional tissue inflammation, daily cleansing with chemotherapeutic agents such as rinses, gels, or solutions, can also help.

Interdental cleaning helps maintain gingival health and prevent oral disease, thus creating a healthy site primed for successful dental implant treatment. A study by Marchesan et al., found that interdental cleaning is associated with less periodontal disease; and a higher frequency of interdental cleaning (4–7 times per week) was also linked with less interproximal periodontal disease.

We recommend the Waterpik Water Flosser with the Plaque Seeker tip to help patients clean around implants and promote healthy gums. Clinically proven to be twice as effective as string floss for dental implant patients it has never been easier to improve oral health at home and enjoy the cleanest, freshest mouth possible.

The relationship between oral hygiene and soft tissue healing and maintenance around implants is a tightly woven one. Thanks to the benefits of a healthy oral environment, and by using products and methods that help achieve and maintain this, dental implant patients will be able to enjoy the benefits of their treatment long into the future.

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