Ultrasonic Scaling Can Be Bad for Implants

Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee

Dental implants are very similar to natural teeth, but they’re not identical. When we’re caring for dental implants at home, we have to be aware of the differences in care. And it’s just as important to make sure that your dentist and hygienist know about your dental implants and know how to care for them properly.

The importance of this has been underscored by a recent study showing that ultrasonic scaling could be bad for dental implants, leading to implant infection, bone loss, and, potentially, failure.

Treating Peri-Implantitis

Peri-implantitis is the leading cause of dental implant failure. Peri-implantitis might sound scary, and sometimes you’ll read articles that try to make it seem scary, but it’s basically gum disease around a dental implant. The more official name for gum disease is periodontal disease, where “perio” means around and “dont” means tooth. Since periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss, it only makes sense that peri-implantitis should be the leading cause of dental implant failure.

Ultrasonic scaler

But it also means that we have to make sure we’re treating it properly. Neglecting peri-implantitis in the early stages can lead it to worsen and cause implants to fail. But should we treat peri-implantitis the way we treat periodontal disease?

It seems that for one tool we use in the treatment of periodontitis, ultrasonic scaling, the answer is no, we have to treat dental implants differently.

Ultrasonic Scaling and Dental Implants

Ultrasonic scaling is a tool we routinely use during your hygiene visits. It’s that vibrating scraper that is used to remove hardened dental plaque. There’s always been some question about whether this is an appropriate tool to use on implants, so it’s good to see someone investigating the question.

For this study, researchers didn’t use actual dental implants. Instead, they used titanium discs that had been treated in three different ways to simulate current surface treatments on implants. Some of the discs were just machined, others were sandblasted, and others were sandblasted and acid etched. Surface roughening techniques like etching and sandblasting are used to help dental implants bond to bone.

Then these discs were subjected to ultrasonic scaling. Of course, this caused particles to come off the implant. They found that more particles came off the discs that had been sandblasted.

The particles from the discs were tested with immune cells and the body’s natural bone metabolism. The particles triggered an immune response (inflammation) and led to the destruction of bone.

Researchers then took these particles and implanted them under the skin up against the skulls of mice for five weeks. They found the particles caused inflammation and bone loss there, too.

Make Sure Your Hygienist Knows about Dental Implants

This new evidence is important to be aware of, but it doesn’t change the fact that dental implants have an incredibly high success rate. With an initial success rate of about 98%, and 95% long-term survival rate, there is good evidence that this is not a major concern.

But it could make the difference for you. When you get your routine checkup and oral hygiene visit, make sure your hygienist knows about your dental implants and takes proper care of them.

If you are considering dental implants in Nashville, TN, please call (615) 383-6787 today for an appointment with cosmetic dentist Dr. Kent E. White at the Center for Advanced Dentistry to start your process.