How to Treat Dental Implant Infection: Understanding the Basics

dental implant infection

Experiencing a dental implant infection can be truly worrisome, especially when you’re not in the position of consulting your implant surgeon for immediate treatment.

However, when patients are equipped with the right kind of knowledge about dental implants (which includes knowledge about implant infections as well), they tackle such situations very wisely. Knowing exactly what to do in such a situation not only alleviates panic and anxiety, but also helps patients become self-sufficient in providing appropriate treatment to unforeseen implant infections.

In this blog, we’ll cover all the basic knowledge regarding dental implants infections along with guidelines on how to treat it.

What Is A Dental Implant Infection?

Let’s build up our foundational knowledge regarding dental implant infections before exploring their treatment. 

Basically, a dental implant infection refers to an inflammatory response that’s triggered in the soft tissues (gums) and the hard tissues (bone) surrounding dental implants. When these tissues are inflamed in response to a harmful stimulus, they start showing several symptoms of inflammation indicative of an implant infection. These symptoms may vary according to the type of infection and generally include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness of the soft tissues (gums).
  • Bleeding
  • Gum recession 
  • Difficulty eating or speaking 
  • Implant mobility 
  • Foul smell in the mouth 
  • Pus discharge 

This inflammation and its associated symptoms could be a reaction against several harmful stimuli and is triggered in the tissues surrounding implants to protect them against these stimuli (by trying to remove the harmful agents and prompting tissue repair). These harmful stimuli (causes) that lead to an implant infection include:

  • Poor oral hygiene, causing plaque and bacterial accumulation around implants.
  • Incorrect implant placement, causing issues in implant osseointegration.
  • Excess implant cement, causing irritation around implants.
  • Immune disorders, such as diabetes, posing barriers in implant healing.
  • Smoking, causing adhesion of smoke to the implants and irritating the surrounding tissues.
  • Unanticipated trauma, causing injury around the implant site and thereby eliciting inflammation.

What Are The Types Of Implant Infection?

There are two main types of dental implant infection, depending upon which tissues are affected by the inflammation and to what extent. These types are:

  • Peri-Implant Mucositis – this type involves the inflammation of the moist mucosal lining, which forms part of the gum tissue surrounding dental implants. This type only affects the soft tissue (the mucosal tissue) and doesn’t involve inflammation of bones. It’s a relatively moderate form of infection and can be controlled easily with appropriate treatment.
  • Peri-implantitis this is an advanced form of infection and involves inflammation of not just the soft tissues but also the hard tissue (bones), thereby leading to bone loss around implants. It happens when peri-implant mucositis is left untreated, causing it to evolve into an advanced level of inflammation. Its symptoms, therefore, are also more intense than those of peri-implant mucositis and need immediate treatment.

How To Treat An Implant Infection: Short-Term And Long-Term Treatments

Only 10% of dental implants develop postoperative infections, and most of the implants successfully replace missing teeth without complications. However, despite the low postoperative infection rate, it’s necessary for patients to educate themselves on the appropriate treatment measures for implant infections if they arise. Let’s consider the short-term and long-term treatments for implant infections.

Short-Term Treatment: DIY Antiseptics And Natural Antibiotics 

Implant infections come with a whole lot of distressing symptoms (including pain, swelling, bleeding, etc.), and employing quick DIY remedies is the best way to relieve yourself from these symptoms. However, these remedies only offer short-term relief to your permanent implants and it’s still important to consult your dentist as soon as possible for professional evaluation and treatment of the infection.

If the infection is primarily due to harmful  pathogens (due to poor oral hygiene, smoking, etc.) then using homemade antiseptics rinses and natural antibiotics would be particularly useful in removing these harmful pathogens and providing immediate relief. Examples of these are given below.

Homemade Antiseptic Rinses:

  • Concentrated Salt-Water Rinse – a great disinfectant for oral bacteria that causes the bacteria to slowly dehydrate and eventually die. Dissolve half a tablespoon of salt in 8 ounces of lukewarm water, and rinse your mouth several times a day with this solution for optimal antiseptic effect.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse – another great disinfectant for oral bacteria. It gets easily oxidized, releasing powerful free radicals which help kill bacteria rapidly. To obtain full disinfection, mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide (<3% concentration) and water and swish it around your mouth for 30 seconds. Spit the solution out after 30 seconds, and make sure not to swallow any of it.

Natural Antibiotics:

  • Clove Oil – a strong natural antibiotic with analgesic (pain relieving) ability as well, both of which are great for treating implant infection. It takes its antibiotic properties from Eugenol, the active component of clove oil. For optimal antibiotic effect, soak a few drops of clove oil on a cotton ball and dab it on the inflamed/infected area.
  • Turmeric Paste – another potent natural antibiotic which also has amazing immune boosting ability. Curcumin (the active compound in turmeric) gives it its commendable antibacterial properties. Mix 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder in 2 tablespoons of filtered warm water and form a thick paste. Apply this paste to the infected/inflamed area and leave it for at least 30 minutes then rinse. Repeat the process twice or thrice a day for maximum antibacterial effect.

Long-Term Treatment: Consulting Your Implant Surgeon 

The abovementioned home remedies only provide a temporary relief from the symptoms of an implant infection, and don’t mean to replace professional treatment by any means. Also, these remedies are only effective when the infection is prompted by harmful oral bacteria, and not when it’s prompted by other causes (such as improper implant placement, excess implant cement, etc.). These causes can only be addressed professionally by an implant surgeon.

It’s essential to consult your implant surgeon for a proper evaluation of your failed dental implant and get relevant treatment, which may include removing improperly placed implants and placing them correctively, removing excess implant adhesives, etc.

Conclusion 

Knowing how to temporarily treat an implant infection allows patients to obtain effective, immediate relief without panicking. If you’re unable to consult your implant surgeon, you can have temporary relief from the symptoms of implant infection by employing home remedies, such as using natural antibiotics and DIY antiseptic rinses.

For further in-depth knowledge about dental implants, their placement procedure, and other specifics, feel free to book a FREE consultation with Cincinnati Smile Clinic, which is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Our team of expert surgeons will guide you in detail regarding dental implants, possibly paving your way to a successful smile transformation.

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