Dental Implants and Flossing: Dental implants have become a popular and effective way to replace missing teeth. With proper care, dental implants can last for many years. An important part of caring for dental implants is properly cleaning them. Flossing dental implants helps remove plaque and debris to keep implants healthy.
Should You Floss Dental Implants?
Flossing is an essential part of caring for natural teeth and it is just as important for dental implants. Bacteria can build up around dental implants, just as it does with natural teeth. Flossing helps disrupt and remove this harmful plaque.
The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once per day. This includes flossing around dental implants. Failing to floss implants increases the risk of developing peri-implant disease. This is a condition that affects the soft and hard tissues surrounding the implant.
Flossing dental implants may require some getting used to, but it is doable with the right techniques and tools. The rewards are healthy implants that can last for decades.
Read More: Grants for Dental Implants in Arkansas
Challenges of Flossing Dental Implants
Flossing dental implants can be tricky at first. Implants are anchored into the bone so they do not have the natural give and flex of a periodontal ligament that natural teeth do. As a result, using regular floss can be difficult. The floss may shred or get stuck between tightly spaced implant crowns.
The good news is specialized floss and tools are available to make the job easier. With some practice and patience, flossing implants can become as routine as flossing natural teeth.
Types of Floss for Dental Implants
Choosing the right type of floss is key to successfully cleaning dental implants. Look for floss specially designed for implants. Here are some of the most common options:
- Dental Tape
Dental tape is wider and flatter than regular floss. This gives it more surface area to clean between tightly spaced or “teeth” in implants. Dental tape may slide more easily between implant crowns without shredding.
Popular dental tape brands include SoftPicks Comfort Slide Floss and GUM Expanding Floss. Some types expand to make it easier to insert and remove between tight contacts.
- Woven Floss
Woven floss has a flat, ribbon-like construction. The weave makes it smooth so it can gently glide between implant crowns. It is stronger than regular floss so woven floss is less likely to tear.
Oral-B Glide floss is a top choice of woven floss for dental implants. Peri-implant tape is another woven option specifically made for cleaning implants.
- PTFE Floss
Floss made with PTFE stands for polytetrafluoroethylene. This material creates a waxed, shred-resistant floss ideal for dental implants. PTFE glides smoothly and its thin profile can fit tightly spaced implants.
Glide flosses like Cocofloss and Dr. Tung’s Smart Floss contain PTFE. These are excellent choices for flossing implants.
- Super Floss
Super floss has a stiffer end that functions like a threader to easily insert the floss between implants. It also has a spongy segment to clean wider surface areas.
Super floss works well if you have dental implants that are far apart or difficult to access. Products like Platypus Orthodontic Super Floss or Listerine Ultraclean Access Floss fit this description.
Flossing Techniques for Dental Implants
Once you have a suitable floss or tape, proper technique is also important to successfully clean implants. Here are some tips:
- Gently guide the floss between implant crown contacts using a rubbing motion rather than roughly snapping the floss into place. This avoids shredding.
- Carefully pull the floss against the sides of each implant crown to disrupt plaque. Move it up and down several times.
- Use a clean section of floss as you move from one implant space to the next to avoid spreading bacteria.
- Try tying a small knot at the end of the floss for easier gripping if you have trouble holding it.
- Utilize floss threaders if you have trouble managing floss with your fingers. These tools let you thread the floss through the implants.
- See your dentist or hygienist for guidance on proper flossing techniques for your specific implant configuration.
With practice, you will get the hang of flossing your dental implants. Be diligent about doing it daily to keep implants clean and healthy.
Floss Alternatives for Implants
Though flossing is recommended for implants, other options can supplement flossing or provide an alternative in certain situations:
- Interdental Brushes
These tiny bottlebrush-shaped tools fit between teeth or implants to clean away debris. They come in various widths. Interdental brushes can reach tight spaces floss may miss.
- Water Irrigation
Water flossers use a stream of water to clean between teeth and implants. The pulsating water removes plaque and flushes out bacteria. Studies show water flossing reduces gingivitis.
These small, rubber cone-shaped brushes attach to a handle. Proxabrushes scrub implant surfaces at the gumline to disorganize plaque.
Disposable rubber picks provide tactile cleaning of implants. They massaged and stimulated gums to improve circulation.
- Pipe Cleaners
The nylon bristles of pipe cleaners can scrub implant surfaces once inserted. They can reach around curved or hard-to-access implants.
Talk to your dentist about incorporating these options into your oral care regimen for implants if needed. But flossing should remain a primary method.
When to Avoid Flossing Implants
There are some situations when you should not floss dental implants:
- If an implant is newly placed, avoid flossing it until the area has healed. This takes about 3-6 weeks.
- Do not force floss into a space that seems too tight. Stop and switch to an interdental brush or soft pick instead.
- If an implant is loose or wobbly, discontinue flossing and see your dentist right away.
- If flossing causes bleeding, pain, or discomfort, stop and get professional advice to avoid damage.
Your dentist can provide guidelines on when to hold off flossing implants and the best alternatives to use. Temporary changes to your oral hygiene routine may be needed at times to allow implants to heal properly.
Using a Water Flosser with Dental Implants
Water flossers are a popular supplement to string floss, especially for dental implants. The benefits of water-flossing implants include:
- Powerful water pulses flush away debris for a deep, thorough clean.
- Stream accuracy lets you target tight or hard-to-reach spaces.
- Massaging water stimulation improves blood flow to the gums.
- It takes less dexterity than traditional flossing.
- Alternating flossing methods provide variability that disrupts more plaque.
However, water flossing should not replace string floss entirely. The ADA recommends using both string floss and irrigation for optimal oral health. The two methods together provide superior plaque removal and gum stimulation.
Follow these tips when water flossing implants:
- Use the lowest pressure setting to avoid damage to implant surfaces.
- Aim the water stream at the implants from multiple angles to wash all sides.
- Adjust the tip to target the water into interim plant spaces.
- Floss first then water floss to flush away loosened plaque.
Water irrigation can enhance dental implant care when used alongside daily flossing. But do not rely on water flossing alone.
Best Dental Flosses for Implants
With so many floss options for implants, it can be hard to choose. Here are some of the top recommended products:
- Glide Oral-B Satin Floss– Ultra-smooth PTFE floss glides easily between tight implants without shredding. It is shred-resistant even when wet.
- GUM Expanding Dental Floss– This flat dental tape expands up to 80% to fit between implants and then contracts for comfortable removal. The textured floss helps scrape plaque away.
- Plackers Micro Mint Dental Floss– These flosses contain micro-grooves that grip and remove plaque. The shred-resistant material is ideal for implants.
- Colgate Total Professional PerioCare Floss– This soft floss gets between implants comfortably without fraying. It delivers antimicrobial ingredients to the gums.
- Tung’s Smart Floss– The steel core of this PTFE floss slides smoothly between implants while retaining strength. Beeswax coating eases guiding around implants.
- Oral Wise Perio Implant Floss– Made specifically for wide-based implants, this flat floss has enhanced grip and glide properties. The soft feel is gentle on the gums.
Speak with your dentist about which floss is right for your particular dental implant configuration and oral health needs. With the right floss and technique, you can keep implants flossy and clean.
FAQs About Flossing Dental Implants
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about flossing dental implants:
How often should I floss around dental implants?
The ADA recommends flossing dental implants once per day at a minimum. More frequent flossing may be recommended if you are prone to gingivitis or periimplantitis.
What problems can I face if I don’t floss properly around implants?
Not flossing can allow plaque buildup, leading to inflammation, bleeding, bad breath, and peri-implant disease. Lack of flossing also increases your decay risk around implant crowns.
My dental implants are tight together. What kind of floss should I use?
Dental tape, woven floss, or PTFE floss are ideal for tightly spaced dental implants. The materials are shred-resistant and smooth to glide through tight contacts. Floss threaders can also help in these situations.
Can I use a water flosser on its own to clean my dental implants?
No, water flossing should not replace string floss entirely. Use both for optimal results. Water flossing cannot wipe biofilm off implants the way string floss can.
My gums bleed a bit when I floss around my implant. Is this normal?
A little bleeding is common especially if your flossing technique needs improvement. However, consistent bleeding is not normal. It likely signals inflammation that requires professional attention.
Can I floss my dental implant before it fully integrates with the bone?
No. Avoid flossing a new implant until your dentist says the site has healed sufficiently. Flossing too soon can disturb the implant while it integrates into the bone.
My dental implant feels slightly loose. Should I stop flossing it?
Yes, refrain from flossing an implant that seems loose. See your dentist promptly to have them check for potential complications. Flossing a loose implant may worsen the situation.
Proper flossing technique takes practice but is critical for dental implant health. Speak to your dentist or hygienist if you have any other questions about caring for your implants. With their guidance and the right floss, you can maintain excellent oral hygiene.
Dental implants can provide beautiful, permanent tooth replacements when well cared for. An essential part of maintaining implants is daily flossing. Flossing removes harmful plaque that can lead to inflammation, decay, and bone loss around implants.
Specialized flosses like dental tape, PTFE, and woven options are designed to make flossing implants easy and effective. Proper flossing technique also prevents cutting or damaging implants. Water flossing serves as a beneficial supplement when combined with daily string flossing.
Caring for implants requires diligence and patience to master the methods. But with the right tools and techniques, flossing implants can become routine. Keep implants clean and plaque-free with daily flossing and professional cleanings. Consistent oral care will help dental implants last for many years.
Mustafa Al Mahmud is the Founder of Quick Medico and also a professional Blogger, SEO Professional as well as Entrepreneur. He loves to travel and enjoy his free moment with family members and friends.