Dental implants have a lot to offer. Unlike dentures, they are permanently anchored to your jaw, so you don't have to worry about slippage when you talk or eat your favorite foods. In addition, implants are very life-like and can solve a myriad of dental issues, from gaps between your teeth to discolored teeth to missing teeth. However, as life-like as dental implants may be, they do require a little extra care when compared to natural teeth. The good news is that, with proper care, implants can last for the rest of your life.

Caring for your dental implants

1. Brush and floss regularly. Just as you should brush your natural teeth after every meal, you should also brush your implants as well as floss to get those little bits of food that can get stuck between your teeth. While implants are made of porcelain and not subject to decay like your natural teeth, the coating can still be damaged by decaying food particles. If you have implants adjacent to your natural teeth, the implants can also trap food that will decay the natural teeth.  "RDH" magazine recommends that implant wearers brush twice a day to remove at least 85 percent of plaque, thus extending the life of the implants as much as possible.

2. Choose a non-abrasive toothpaste. To protect your investment and keep your implants looking sharp, you'll want to choose a non-abrasive tooth paste or gel, one that won't scratch the porcelain surface of your new teeth. There are even a few dental care products on the market designed especially for implants. Some dentists also recommend using an anti-bacteria toothpaste, at least during the first year, to help the gums heal properly.

3. Schedule bi-annual dental appointments. Getting implant dentistry done doesn't mean that you can stop going to the dentist for your regular appointments. Implants need professional cleaning and care in addition to home care, just like your natural teeth do. Plus, your dentist can monitor your gums around the implants to make sure that there are no infections or irritations.

4. Avoid fluoride toothpastes. Fluoride products can irritate the gums and cause them to recede around the implants.

While getting dental implants will improve your smile, investing in implants is not an invitation to ignore your dental care. Implants need just as much care as your natural teeth to keep looking nice for years to come.