If you have dental implants, you're likely expecting them to last a lifetime. And in most cases they do, giving patients a fully restored, beautiful, functional smile. However, there are some threats to the lifespan of dental implants. Without proper oral care, you may develop peri-implantitis, or gum disease around an implant.
The good news is that peri-implantitis is treatable, especially if you stop the infection early. In order to help patients catch peri-implantitis early, your Pittsburgh periodontist, Dr. Silberg, discusses what peri-implantitis is, how it differs from other similar infections, and how it can be treated.
A periodontal infection can threaten your dental implants, but with the right treatment, it doesn't have to be the end.
Peri-Implantitis vs. Periodontitis
Peri-implantitis is an infection that has much in common with periodontitis, or advanced gum disease. With both diseases, the gums and supporting structures in your mouth are infected and become inflamed. When you brush, your gums are likely to bleed. As both diseases progress, pockets of bacteria form below the gum line, creating protected spaces that harbor bacteria and debris, exacerbating the infection. Severe cases of both peri-implantitis and periodontitis lead to bone loss, which can compromise the stability of your teeth or your implant.
If you think you have gum disease in Pittsburg, you will need to seek treatment, since both periodontitis and peri-implantitis are progressive diseases which can't be treated at home. If you haven't yet developed either one, the same daily hygiene used to avoid gum disease can be used to protect against peri-implantitis. You should brush and floss every day, and schedule regular checkups. Finally, certain lifestyle choices, like tobacco use, can increase the risk of gum infections.
Peri-implantitis is unique in that it is a localized lesion that can only occur around an implant, not a natural tooth. While periodontitis is common, peri-implantitis is less common, occurring in around 1 out of 10 implant recipients. Peri-implantitis is also different from periodontitis because it's harder to diagnose early. Many patients don’t know they have an infection until serious symptoms develop. More often, peri-implantitis is detected through an x-ray during a regular checkup.
Peri-Implantitis and the LAPIP Protocol
As with other forms of gum disease, there are several treatment options. Surgery or laser procedures are the most common, and of the two, laser treatment is by far the least invasive. LAPIP is similar to LANAP, the procedure used to treat periodontitis. LAPIP, however, is designed to target infection around dental implants.
First a small laser is inserted beneath the gums at the base of the implant, where it targets and destroys bacteria and infected tissue. Ultrasonic tools are then used to remove any remaining bacteria and to make sure the implant is 100% free from dangerous debris. The laser is inserted below the gum line one more time to eliminate any surviving bacteria, and the gums are encouraged to heal around the implant again.
LAPIP treatment offers many important benefits. First, it is less invasive than surgery and doesn’t destroy any healthy gum tissue. The laser is specifically designed to only target infected tissue. This treatment is also quick and effective. Finally, the laser works to stimulate gum and bone growth, allowing your natural bone to increase in both density and mass without a bone graft, protecting the security of your implant for years to come.
If you have implants and think you have peri-implantitis, please contact us immediately. We at the Silberg Center for Dental Science are committed to providing our patients with the highest level of care available, and will make sure you feel the difference our dedication makes to your smile.