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Dental Implants: A Guide for Seniors

If you are a senior considering dental implants, you may have to worry about issues other dental patients don't have to think about. For example, you may need more time to recover after receiving your implants. My name is Jodi, and I've been working with seniors for years. I decided to create this blog to help the seniors I can't meet in person. In this space, I'm going to post entries on everything related to dental implants and seniors. From tips on flossing implants after arthritis has claimed some of your dexterity, to guiding you through the implants-vs-dentures debate, this blog is designed for you. Thanks for reading. I hope you find what you need!



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Dental Implants: A Guide for Seniors

Pocket Rocket: How To Promote Healing And Speed Recovery Time After Pocket Reduction Surgery

by Jimmy Carter

Pocket reduction surgery is a procedure designed to reduce the space between a tooth and the surrounding gum line -- ordinarily, this space is only a few millimetres wide and presents no problems, but if you are suffering from a bout of gum disease, this pocket can widen, forming a great sheltered place for infectious bacteria to thrive. To close this pocket, a dental surgeon or periodontist like Dr Edmond Lobaza will temporarily widen the pocket, allowing them to thoroughly clean the inside of the pocket of bacteria, tartar and accumulated detritus. The gum is then reshaped to close the pocket around the tooth, and it is fixed in place, generally with stitches. 

Recovering after dental surgery is never a particularly pleasant experience, and the pain and discomfort often experienced after a pocket reduction surgery is no different. However, there are a number of measures you can take to both speed the healing process, and minimise the risks of complications and infections, allowing you to get your mouth back in fighting shape again as quickly as possible.

Taking care of your sutures

In most cases, your newly reshaped gum line will be held in place by temporary sutures. which will generally stay in place for a couple of weeks before being removed by your dentist. However, in some cases your sutures will start to loosen and fall out early. This is generally a good sign, as it means the gum tissue is healing quickly, but can be annoying, and the loose threads can irritate sensitive tissue. If you feel comfortable, you can trim the loose threads yourself with a pair of nail scissors, but your dentist will be happy to remove loose sutures early themselves.

Despite this, it's important that the sutures stay in place until pushed out naturally by healing gum tissue, so it's important not to loosen them in any way yourself. You should avoid constantly pulling back your lips to inspect the sutures, as this places tension on the gum line that can cause sutures to spring loose. You should also be careful while brushing your teeth: using a very soft-bristled brush can make it easier to clean the tooth above the sutured gums without damaging anything.

Avoiding reinfection

Recently reshaped gum tissue is prone to infection if your dental hygiene is lacking, so it's important that your daily cleaning regimen continues, despite how uncomfortable brushing and flossing may be. To further reduce the risk of a relapse, your dentist may recommend medicated mouthwash, or prescribe specialised mouthwash containing chlorhexidine, a powerful antibacterial agent. If your risk of reinfection is slight, and your dentist does not recommend any special mouthwashes, you can still help keep the reshaped gums clean with simple salt water mouthwashes. Whatever option you choose, make sure you consult with your dentist on how best to keep your mouth clean after your surgery. 

Increased sensitivity

During a pocket reduction, the roots of the tooth inside the open pocket will be thoroughly cleaned and de-scaled to remove accumulated tartar and calculus. This procedure is quite abrasive, and as a result the roots of your teeth can feel quite sensitive to hot or cold for a few weeks. This is normal, and nothing to be concerned about, but if the sensitivity persists for more than a month, or if the sensitivity is too severe to bear, revisit your dentist -- they will generally offer you a special fluoride toothpaste or gel to numb the sensitivity, but in extreme cases they may opt to temporarily anaesthetise the sensitive area. 

Sequestrum problems

In rare cases, a fleck of loose bone known as a sequestrum can embed itself in the reshaped gum line during or after surgery. This bone fragment can be sharp and uncomfortable, but will generally fall out after a few days, or else be reabsorbed into the healing gums. However, if a sequestrum is particularly large or firmly entrenched in the gum line, you may need to visit your dentist, who can remove it with a minimally-invasive procedure.