Many patients are not aware of the fact that infections can also arise in the area of the dental implant. This condition concerning the artifical tooth is frequently referred to as peri-implantitis and demonstrates multiple parallels to periodontitis, a condition affecting the periodontium of a natural tooth.
Peri-implantitis emerges similarly to periodontitis: During the early stages, so-called mucositis (an infection on the surface of the gums surrounding the implant usually entailing swelling) occurs frequently and deepened gingival pockets, in which so-called “anaerobic bacteria“ (meaning bacteria only capable of existing without oxygen) feel perfectly comfortable, arise. These periodontitis bacteria bring about bone loss on the floor of the pockets. Due to the fact that the infection usually proceeds free of pain, it tends to be detected at quite a late point in time. In the course of periodontitis treatment, these pockets are often cleaned by means of ultrasound or powder jet and freed from tartar and bacteria. Letting air back into the pockets is particularly important at this point.
Many patients falsely think themselves safe subsequent to tooth removal. Even though it is true that an implant is more resilient than a natural tooth root and cannot be affected by tooth decay, it should not be forgotten that an implant is not “hung up“ at the bone by means of the so-called periodontium. This elastic fiber system is supplied with blood, in other words, there is an immune defense in the form of white blood cells. Conversely, in the case of a dental implant, scar tissue tends to form around around the implant that may resemble the gums but does not command the same protective mechanism against bacteria. For this reason, an infection is absolutely possible.
However, mistakes made during the operation can also give rise to peri-implantitis. An interplay of several different factors is common and can lead to a total loss of the implant if gone undetected. Regular checkups contribute to detecting peri-implantitis early on and to taking appropriate measures in due time.