Dental implants are a popular and effective solution for replacing missing teeth. However, even though implants are not susceptible to decay like natural teeth, they can still be affected by gum disease if proper oral hygiene is not maintained. Proper oral hygiene includes brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
But how do you floss around dental implants? In many ways, flossing your implants is similar to flossing your natural teeth, with some special considerations.
Here we explore how to floss around dental implants, special things to consider, and alternatives to traditional floss.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for your overall health and the longevity of your new implants. Learning how to care for them properly will help ensure your implants last many years.
- Dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth, but they need proper care to avoid gum disease.
- Flossing is crucial for implants, but be careful not to damage the implant or gums.
- Use gentle techniques and special floss like Teflon, dental tape, or super floss for implants.
- Water flossers are also effective for cleaning around implants.
- Regular flossing and oral hygiene will help your implants last for years and keep your smile healthy.
Should you floss your dental implants?
Flossing is an essential part of oral hygiene, and it becomes even more critical when you have dental implants. Food particles and plaque can accumulate between the implant and the gum line, leading to inflammation and potential infection. If left untreated, this can result in peri-implantitis, a condition similar to gum disease that affects the tissues surrounding the implant.
Potential risks of flossing your implants
While flossing dental implants is crucial for maintaining oral health, some potential risks are associated with improper flossing techniques or other factors. It’s important to be aware of these risks and take the necessary precautions when caring for your dental implants.
- Floss shreds: Traditional dental floss can break down easily, leaving small particles behind. If these small particles become trapped between the implant and the gums, they can cause a condition known as peri-implantitis, which can contribute to implant failure.
- Rough flossing technique: With natural teeth, the periodontal ligament allows you to floss around the teeth without causing damage. With an implant, you do not have that ligament. Instead, a peri-implant seal works to protect the implant. This seal, however, could be stronger in comparison and can easily be damaged with aggressive flossing techniques.
- Damage to the gum tissue: If flossing is done too aggressively or with excessive force, it may injure the delicate gum tissue around the dental implant. This can lead to inflammation, bleeding, and potential complications such as peri-implantitis.
How to floss around dental implants
Flossing around dental implants requires a gentle and careful approach to ensure you clean the area effectively without causing any damage to the implant or surrounding tissues. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to floss around dental implants.
- Prepare the floss: Cut a piece of floss that is about 18 inches long. You can wrap the ends around your middle fingers and leave about 2-3 inches of floss between them.
- Thread the floss: Gently guide the floss between the implant and the neighboring tooth. If there’s a gap between the implant and the adjacent tooth, insert the floss carefully into that space.
- Form a “C” shape: Once the floss is inserted, create a “C” shape by curving the floss around the side of the implant. This will help ensure you clean both the implant surface and the gumline effectively.
- Glide the floss: Use a gentle back-and-forth motion to glide the floss up and down along the sides of the implant and under the gumline. Be cautious not to snap the floss, as this can cause damage to the gums.
- Be thorough but gentle: Make sure to clean the entire circumference of the implant and reach as far under the gumline as possible without causing discomfort. It’s normal to see some bleeding if you have not been flossing regularly or if there’s inflammation present. However, excessive bleeding may indicate you are being too aggressive, and you should adjust your technique.
- Repeat for neighboring implants: If you have multiple dental implants, repeat the flossing process for each implant, using a fresh section of floss for each one.
What kind of floss do you use for dental implants?
When choosing the best types of floss for dental implants, the key factors to consider are gentleness, effectiveness, and ease of use. Here are some recommended types of floss that are commonly used and suitable for cleaning around dental implants.
- Teflon floss: Teflon floss is smooth and non-shredding, making it gentle on the gums and less likely to irritate. Teflon floss allows for easy maneuvering between dental implants and the gum line.
- Dental tape: Dental tape is broader and flatter than regular floss, providing more surface area for cleaning around dental implants. Its flat design allows for gentle cleaning without damaging the soft tissues.
- Super floss: Super floss is a multifilament floss that combines regular floss, a stiffened end, and a spongy component. The stiffened end helps thread the floss under dental bridges or around implants, while the spongy part aids in cleaning wide spaces around the implant.
- Implant-specific floss: Some dental floss products are explicitly designed for cleaning around dental implants. These may have special features to facilitate cleaning in implant-retained prosthetics or areas that require specific attention.
Floss picks or floss holders: Floss picks or holders can be convenient for people with dexterity issues or those who find traditional flossing challenging. Look for picks with a thin, flat floss or tape, and ensure they are suitable for use around dental implants.
- Water Flosser: Water flossers are devices that use a stream of water to remove plaque, food particles, and debris from between teeth and along the gumline. They can be especially beneficial for cleaning around dental implants, as they can reach areas that traditional floss might have difficulty accessing.
Frequently asked questions
Here we answer some of the common questions we receive regarding flossing and dental implants.
How do you clean under dental implants?
Cleaning under dental implants is crucial for maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing complications. One effective way to clean under dental implants is by using a combination of dental floss and a water flosser. Dental floss, such as Teflon floss or dental tape, should be gently threaded between the implant and the gum line, forming a “C” shape around the implant to remove plaque and debris. Additionally, a water flosser can be used with a low-pressure setting to flush away remaining particles and bacteria from hard-to-reach areas.
Is it OK to use a Waterpik with implants?
Waterpik is a brand name for specific water flossers. Water flossers are designed to be gentle on the gums, which is especially important when cleaning around dental implants to avoid damaging the peri-implant seal. When using a Waterpik with implants, it is essential to start with the lowest pressure setting and gradually increase it as needed, avoiding high pressure around implants to prevent any potential harm.
Recent studies, such as this randomized controlled trial, show that interdental cleaning devices, or water flossers, are two times more effective than floss at cleaning around dental implants.
What is the best type of floss for dental implants?
The best floss for you and your dental implants is one that is gentle on the gums, effectively removes plaque and debris, and is easy to use. What works best for you may not work for someone else. It is important that you find a suggested floss that is easy for you to work with and allows for regular daily flossing.
Maintaining good oral hygiene with dental implants
While dental implants are not natural teeth, it is still important that food and bacteria are removed from around your implants in order to promote good oral health. A good oral hygiene routine includes brushing twice a day as well as flossing at least once a day. As we have shown here, flossing with implants takes special consideration but it does play an important role in maintaining good oral health. Following these flossing tips can help ensure you keep you dental implants clean and free of bacteria and food particles.
Helping keep your smile healthy and beautiful
At New Leaf Dental, our goal is to help you achieve and maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. Dental implants are an investment in your smile, and regular care that includes flossing is essential to ensure your implants stay in place and healthy for many, many years to come. If you have questions about flossing, are having problems flossing, or would like to explore different flossing options, our team is ready to work with you to find the best flossing solution.
To learn more, schedule an appointment today.