Today I saw a patient who had had an implant done to replace upper right first molar. The implant treatment was finished a year ago in another practice.
Since then the patient had seen hygienist twice in my practice. The implant crown itself looked immaculate but the gum was very red and puffy and it bled heavily after probing.
I knew what to ask next and I even knew the patient’s reply to this.
“Were you told how to clean the implant at home?”
“No I wasn’t” replied the patient with is-it-supposed-to-be-cleaned-expression on his face.
This happens too often. Almost every time I see a patient who has recently had an implant done.
Note for all the dental professionals who make the implant treatment’s final stages and do not give oral hygiene instructions (OHI) for the patient:
You should always tell and show how the patient can clean these costly pieces of metal and porcelain. It is your responsibility as a dental professional and the paying patient’s right!
Can you give me any other excuse for not giving OHI than the fact that you are too busy making money and forgetting the basics? I believe you cannot.
And you hygienists who see patients with implants:
- Always check how the patient is cleaning them. More so if the gum around the implant is either bleeding or there is plaque around it
- Advice if necessary and show in their mouth how it is done
- Check if the patient understood your instructions by asking them to show they can do it. Teach them if they struggle
- Check on a follow-up visit that the gum has healed. If not, refer to a dentist
Why Is It So Important?
With the implants it is vital that there is no bleeding in the surrounding gum. They will get an implant’s equivalent to gingivitis – peri-implant mucositis which can lead to the peri-implantitis (same as periodontitis with teeth) very rapidly. The worst case scenario is that the implant will lose its integration to the bone which could have been easily prevented.
The patient I saw today left home with instructions on how to look after his implant. And I will see him for a follow-up visit to make sure the gum has healed (can you see the shining halo around my head?).
Honestly, it’s not that hard to do your job properly so shape up please!
Here‘s further reading on the subject.