Excessive plaque and tartar (which is hardened, calcified plaque) can render a patient unsuitable for dental implants. This is not a permanent conclusion, yet this harmful bacterial biofilm (which is the nature of plaque) must be managed before your implant surgery can proceed. Patients who have historically experienced ongoing issues with plaque management may need to have this factor considered during their dental implant planning.
Ceramic and Titanium
Plaque and tartar (or rather the bacteria contained therein) may ultimately destabilize a dental implant. The implant's crown (prosthetic tooth) will be constructed from robust dental ceramic (either zirconia or lithium disilicate), with the implant placed in your jaw (which serves as a tooth root) made of titanium alloy.
Hard and Soft Tissue Infections
Oral bacteria accumulating on a dental crown (and/or natural teeth) will eventually inflame the adjacent gum tissues, leading to gingivitis. This infection can affect the soft tissues surrounding the implant, becoming a condition called peri-implant mucositis. Untreated, it will begin to encompass the hard tissues (bone), and will progress to a condition called peri-implantitis. This threatens the implant's connection with your bone, and therefore the implant itself.
Treatment or Implant Failure
Implants affected by peri-implant mucositis can often be salvaged by mechanical debridement of the affected implant surface. Peri-implantitis cannot be contained with the implant in place, as the existing implant has failed. It will be removed, and a new implant can be placed at a later stage after adequate treatment and healing time. As you can see, plaque and tartar are no trivial matter with dental implants.
Plaque and tartar must be managed prior to implant surgery, and you must make an ongoing commitment to your oral hygiene at home. Brushing and flossing are about all that's needed to manage the development of plaque—in a process that's both simple and crucial. Patients prone to developing plaque may even be offered an entirely zirconia implant, instead of one made of titanium alloy.
The surfaces of zirconia implants historically retain less plaque and tartar than their titanium equivalents. This can provide an extra layer of protection from the bacterial infections that may befall an implant. As always, attend your regular dental checkups so professional teeth cleaning can be performed to remove plaque you may have missed.
The cost of a dental implant, along with the fact that implantation requires oral surgery (however minor it might be) mean that there's a real incentive to manage your plaque and tartar—ensuring your dental implant avoids undue risk.