Peri-implantitis is to your dental implants what periodontitis–advanced gum disease–is to your natural teeth. It’s an infection around the implant that degrades the bone and can lead to the loss of your dental implant.
In its early stages, peri-implantitis might be treated with antibiotics. But there’s a challenge: many bacteria are growing resistant to antibiotics, and resistance is common in peri-implantitis. Fortunately, genetic testing provides a route that will soon help us identify resistances and target our antibiotics to the specific bacteria causing the infection.
Our use of antibiotics is not so much a new development in nature as it is us stepping in at the very late stages of a long war, kind of like when the US got involved in WWI. The war had raged for eons between bacteria and their natural enemies, like yeast, and each side had developed measures and countermeasures to try to defeat the other. Antibiotics were used by fungi against the bacteria, and the bacteria developed resistance to them.
But the balance changed when humans began picking certain antibiotics and using them to wipe out huge swaths of the bacterial population. Although this was devastating to many bacteria, for others it was a boon. Bacteria that had developed resistance to the relatively small number of antibiotics we were using began to thrive.
And those bacteria may be thriving in your mouth if you have peri-implantitis. A recent study found that more than 70% of people with peri-implantitis have been infected with bacteria resistant to one or more antibiotics (similar to the rates of resistant bacteria in chronic periodontitis). For some common antibiotics, the resistance frequency was near 50%. However, the proportion of people with bacteria resistant to multiple types of antibiotics was much smaller, around 7% for one of the tested combinations.
With antibiotic resistance being as prevalent as it is, it makes sense to test bacteria to help determine the best approach to treatment. Treating with an antibiotic where there is resistance can actually make things worse. As genetic testing becomes more prevalent, it will allow us to choose the right antibiotic to target your infection and help preserve your dental implants.
If you would like to learn more about the advanced dental services we offer, please call (310) 275-5325 today to schedule an appointment with a Beverly Hills dentist.