If you are getting a dental implant or already have one, there are a few things you need to be aware of to keep the site healthy. One issue that can affect the healing and lifespan of an implant is gum recession. Read on to learn what causes this issue, how it affects implants, and how to fix the issue before it becomes a bigger problem.
What Causes Gum Recession?
Poor oral hygiene and poor habits, like smoking, can cause the recession of your gums. However, people with good oral health can suffer from gum recession if they floss aggressively or brush their teeth too hard. People who suffer from bruxism, or teeth grinding, are at risk for this issue as well.
Why Is Gum Recession a Problem—Especially for Implants?
When your gum tissue recedes, it can expose your tooth roots and make your teeth more sensitive. As gum tissue recedes and pulls away from teeth, it makes it easier for bacteria and plaque to build up in gum pockets. Receding gums also make it easier for bacteria to get underneath the implant and cause an infection or decay in nearby teeth.
Gum recession can lead to gingivitis or gum disease. Inflammatory conditions, like gum disease, affect both your gum tissue and the underlying structures that support dental implants. Patients need to watch out for inflammatory conditions since these issues prevent implant posts from fusing with the jaw bone, thus causing the implant to fail. If your implant fails, then you'll need to undergo another surgery. Some people may even need a bone graft or gum graft to repair the damage before an implant can be placed again.
How Can You Address the Problem?
If you don't have your implant yet, your dentist will work with you beforehand to make sure your receding gums can heal. He or she will help you adjust your brushing or flossing habits and tell you when you can or can't smoke (if that's an issue).
In severe cases, your dentist may recommend soft tissue augmentation before or after your procedure. During soft tissue augmentation, your dentist will use tissue from a donor to build up the gum line. In some cases, if you don't want to use a donor, your dentist may take strong tissue from a different part of your mouth and place it on the site with the recession.
If you already have an implant, your dentist may prescribe a medication or mouth rinse to treat any inflammation so that you can fully heal despite the gum recession. He or she may also recommend debridement or laser treatment to destroy bacteria. During this type of procedure, your dentist would cut a small flap in the gum tissue, clean underneath the recessed gum, and then place stitches so that the receding tissue could heal more snugly around the implant post.
For more information about dental implant care, reach out to a dentist in your area today.