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4 Signs You Might Have Developed Peri-Implantitis

by Danielle Fletcher

Plenty of people assume that having dental implants means not having to worry about their oral health. While it is certainly true that dental implants won't decay like natural teeth, the surrounding gums can still develop problems. Just as periodontal disease can occur in the gums that surround natural teeth, peri-implantitis can occur in the gums that surround dental implants.

Caused by the same kinds of bacteria that create normal periodontitis, peri-implantitis is an infectious disease that creates inflammation. If left untreated, it can lead to a loss of the supporting bone, which will often mean that the implant needs to be removed and replace.

This is obviously something you want to avoid, but, unfortunately, many people are unable to recognise the common signs of peri-implantitis. Here are just four that should prompt you to visit your dentist immediately.

1. Gaps between Gum and Implant

When peri-implantitis reaches its advanced stages, the gums around the implant will start to pull away, leaving something of a crater-like socket from which the implant protrudes. Unfortunately, this is often the first stage at which people notice a symptom, so it's worth covering first. If your gum pockets begin to deepen, your implant appears a little longer, or any part of the implant's underlying structure is visible, it's likely that you have peri-implantitis.

2. Changes in Gum Appearance

It's relatively easy to notice when the gums have actually begun to move away from the implant, but there are often less immediately discernible cosmetic changes you should keep an eye out for. At first, you may notice that the gum around your implant is a little red instead of the pale pink that it should be. This redness will probably be particularly pronounced along the edge of the gum, and you might also notice a slight transparency where gum meets implant.

3. Halitosis

As an oral infection, peri-implantitis can sometimes cause bad breath. This often worsens when the gums begin to pull away from the implant since the infectious parts of the gum will be open to your mouth. Additionally, food debris can start getting caught between gum and implant, and even the smallest of crumbs can produce a poor odour if not brushed away.

4. Bleeding or Pain

A lot of the time, peri-implantitis presents no pain, but it isn't too rare for pain to occur when you are brushing or flossing. You may also notice pus coming out from under the gums and the implant. More commonly, a small amount of blood will escape from the gums when you clean your teeth or softly probe the tissue that surrounds your implant.