If you have a problem with a dental implant, bridge or denture, contact your local Bupa dental clinic to find out whether you need to make an appointment or if you may be able to treat your symptoms at home.

Caring for dental implants

Dental implants are fairly low maintenance, but they still need to be cleaned and maintained with good dental hygiene just like your natural teeth. Regular cleaning, good oral hygiene and home dental care are important to lower the risk of infections and can also help a dental implant to last longer.

Peri-implant disease is an infection that can occur if plaque builds up around dental implants. Similar to gum disease around teeth, peri-implant disease can eventually cause bone loss in the jaw and damage the surrounding teeth if it's left untreated.

Dental implant infections can usually be prevented with regular cleaning. Dentists recommend:

  • Brushing your teeth and your dental implant at least twice a day, using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush in a gentle circular motion to avoid damaging the implant
  • Flossing between the implant and the surrounding teeth using unwaxed floss tape or an interdental brush coated with nylon
  • Cutting down on sugar that feeds bacteria and can increase plaque build-up around teeth and implants

If you have multiple implants, all of your teeth have been replaced with full arch implants or you have any other questions, talk to your local Bupa dentist for more information about caring for your implants at home.

Common dental implant problems

Problems with dental implants may be temporary or may cause infection and other serious health issues if they're not treated. Contact your dentist for advice if you have any of the following symptoms of common dental implant problems:

  • Red or sore gum around the implant
  • Swelling around the implant that may spread to other areas
  • Difficulty chewing with the implant
  • The crown or the implant itself feeling loose

Tell your dentist about the symptoms you're experiencing so they can offer guidance about home care over the phone or recommend that you book an appointment if needed.

Red or painful gums may be treated at home by improving your oral hygiene, changing to a softer toothbrush or using an antiseptic mouthwash to care for your teeth and gums.

Other symptoms are likely to need professional attention and could get worse if you delay seeing a dentist.

Caring for a dental bridge

Dental bridges are generally easy to maintain just by following your normal oral hygiene routine.

To help prevent problems with your dental bridge, you should:

  • Avoid very hard or sticky foods that could damage your bridge or cause it to come loose
  • Not bite or chew non-food objects, such as pencils, ice cubes or fingernail
  • Brush and floss your bridge twice a day at the same time as the rest of your teeth

Common dental bridge problems

Problems that can affect a dental bridge include:

  • The artificial teeth chipping or cracking, which could cause injuries in your mouth or make it harder to eat
  • The bridge feeling loose or coming out
  • Toothache or sensitivity around the bridge that may be caused by an infection or inflammation

Contact your dentist if you're worried about your dental bridge or your oral health. They can advise you about whether you need to book an appointment or if you can treat the symptoms at home.

Caring for your dentures

Dentures need daily care just like natural teeth to help prevent bad breath and oral health problems such as gum disease. We recommend that you:

  • Clean your dentures at least once a day using a toothbrush, liquid soap and warm water
  • Brush your gums and any remaining teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste
  • Use a special denture cleaning solution at least once a week for a deeper clean
  • Take out your dentures before you go to sleep, unless your dentist has advised you to keep wearing them
  • Store your dentures away from direct sunlight and heat sources

Common denture problems

Contact your dentist for advice if your dentures:

  • are damaged
  • feel loose in your mouth
  • feel painful or uncomfortable
  • are causing ulcers

It's normal for new dentures to feel uncomfortable at first, but this should fade as you get used to how they feel. Improving your oral hygiene could help to reduce inflammation that could be causing some pain and sensitivity.

If your dentures become damaged, you shouldn't try to fix them yourself. Your Bupa dentist will advise you if you need to visit your local clinic.

Caring for retainers

Wearing a retainer is an important part of your overall orthodontic treatment. You should follow your dentist or orthodontist's advice and continue to wear your retainer for as long as advised, otherwise there's a risk that your teeth may move back to their old position or become crooked.

How long you have to wear a retainer depends on how long ago your braces or aligners were removed.

  • Less than 12 months – wear your retainer every night and If you forget to wear it one night, wear it all through the following day and night to be safe.
  • More than 12 months – wear your retainers every other night until your dentist or orthodontist advises you otherwise.

It's also important to properly maintain your retainer to lower your risk of oral health problems. Caring for your retainer depends on the type of retainer you have.

  • Fixed – brush and floss your teeth as normal, taking care around your retainer
  • Removable – wash the retainer with cold water and liquid soap or a special retainer cleaner

Dealing with orthodontic problems

Problems with braces, retainers and other orthodontic appliances need the attention of a professional. If something happens to your appliance or you start to feel pain or discomfort when wearing it, contact your dentist or orthodontist for their expert advice and to see if you need to schedule a visit.

Loose brace wire

If a wire has come loose on your brace and is poking or scratching your mouth, this needs urgent attention to avoid possible injury and infection.

A dentist or orthodontist is the best person to fix a loose wire, but the following tips could help in the meantime:

  • Try to bend the wire back into position using tweezers
  • Cut the loose wire shorter so it can't reach other parts of your mouth
  • Cover the sharp end of the wire with orthodontic wax, another wax covering or sugar-free chewing gum until you can see a dentist to prevent contact

Broken or lost retainer

Teeth may start to move position after even one to two days without a retainer. If you can't find your retainer, it's damaged or it's come loose, contact your dentist or orthodontist to arrange a new fitting as soon as possible.

If your fixed retainer comes off but you have a removable retainer, wear this instead until you're able to receive a replacement.

Do you need to talk to a dentist?

If you need some advice about anything related to an implant, bridge, dentures or a retainer, or you have other dental concerns, your dentist is just a phone call away.