When it comes to dental implants, there is some good news, and some bad news. Dental implants are not subject to tooth decay, which is the good news.

The bad news is that dental implants are subject to gum disease. Just like teeth, if the implant develops an infection, it can ultimately loosen and fall out.

Therefore, just like someone with natural teeth, implants require similar maintenance, which includes home care and occasional professional care. Anything that negatively impacts the bone can also cause them to fail.

One big factor is smoking. Diabetes and certain bone diseases can be treated and are somewhat out of the patient’s control. The effects of smoking and lack of maintenance are under the patient’s control.

When a maintenance visit is due, the hygienist has special plastic tipped instruments to clean around the implants. Great care is exercised to avoid scratching the implant. This could lead to additional harmful bacterial build-up, which is not the desired effect. You should also be instructed on home care to more assure the longevity of the implant.

For those who have natural teeth, maintenance is critical to maintain a healthy oral environment. Since teeth are subject to both decay and gum disease, the task can be even harder.

Teeth are the only part of our bodies that can remain youthful no matter what the chronologic age. This should be a motivating factor so as not to have to replace failing teeth with dental implants.

Just like a luxury automobile, or  a fine watch, routine maintenance and care can make teeth, and dental implants, last a long time.

James G. Jenkins, D.M.D. is the owner of Bluffton Dental Care in Bluffton.