Understanding Peri-Implantitis And How To Avoid It


When bacteria forms around the base of an implant, a condition known as peri-implantitis can result. Similar to gingivitis and periodontitis, this infection can impact nearby teeth and gums. While receiving dental implants does not guarantee peri-implantitis, it can be a risk. Proper oral hygiene is an ongoing method of avoiding it. If you do end up developing this condition, early treatment is essential. If the condition remains untreated severe side effects can occur. These include loss of teeth, destruction of bone tissue, and gum damage. 

Understanding Peri-Implantitis, Avoiding It, And Treatment

As with any health condition, it’s essential to understand this condition and its potential impact. Post-op infections like peri-implantitis are rare, but the consequences can be severe. If you’ve recently undergone implant surgery, be sure to watch for the following symptoms:

  • Inflammation – Swelling, pain, and redness of the gum tissue near the new implant
  • Gum Line – If you notice recession in your gumline, this could indicate peri-implantitis
  • Visible Threads – Implant threads should be covered by gum tissue, not visible
  • Loose Implant – If your implant feels loose, peri-implantitis could be the cause
  • Bone Deterioration – While invisible, it is experienced as jaw soreness
  • Bleeding – Your gums should not bleed when healthy; another warning sign
  • Lymph Nodes – If your neck or armpit lymph nodes are swollen, call your dentist

Discharge of pus near the implant is a clear sign of trouble and infection. This discharge is more often tasted than seen. If you experience a foul taste in your mouth following an implant, it’s time to seek help. Your implant should not be a source of discomfort or pain following the healing period. If you experience any of the above symptoms, your dentist should be your next call.  

While peri-implantitis is uncommon, there are several reasons it may develop:

  • Compromised Immune System – Patients with other medical conditions that result in a compromised immune system are at risk. Be certain your dentist is aware of any pre-existing conditions before getting implants.
  • Insufficient Dental Care – Maintaining consistent oral health care after you receive an implant is critical. This practice will ensure that you keep the area clean and prevent bacterial growth.
  • Parafunctional Habits – This term refers to involuntary habits. These habits can include grinding your teeth, biting your nails, and others.

Getting dental implants is an important decision. Before doing so, make sure that your dentist is aware of all your health conditions. You’ll also want to be prepared to stick to a strict dental hygiene routine.

Getting Treatment For Peri-Implantitis

When prevention hasn’t worked to avoid bacterial infection, rapid treatment is necessary. The initial step in treating an infection is the application of antibiotics. Your treatment will combine this medication with a thorough cleaning of the infection site. You may also receive immediate antibiotic treatment during your cleaning in addition to a prescription. In the most severe cases, it will be necessary to remove the implant and damaged bone. A bone graft may be called for to replace the damaged bone before replacing the dental implant. Consult your dentist if you suspect you are experiencing an oral infection.

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dr ulysses vargas dds south hill comprehensive dentistry

Dr. Vargas earned his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, graduating with Distinction in Research honors. While in Dental school he was active in research and presented at the AADR in Tamp Florida where abstract was accepted into the finalist Dentsply/Caulk competition, his work received 2nd place at the 30th annual Dental Science Symposium. Dr. Vargas is an active member of several dental affiliated societies and organizations, which are the American Dental AssociationTexas Dental AssociationSan Antonio District Dental SocietyAmerican Student Dental Association.

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