What Is Keratinised Tissue, and How Does It Affect Your New Dental Implant?

Posted on: 14 February 2022

Dental implants need several factors to be successful. Perhaps the two most important components are a healthy jawbone of adequate density to permit implantation and a patient who is willing to follow their dentist's aftercare instructions to ensure the stability and general health of the implant. It might be frustrating if you've been diligently following your dentist's instructions to the letter, but your implant still feels uncomfortable and even a little sore at times. It might be that your implant is missing one of the components it needs, namely enough keratinised tissues.

The Role of Keratin

Keratinised tissues are, quite logically, tissues rich with keratin. This is a type of protein, best known for its presence in your hair and nails. Your body also produces internal keratin in your organs, glands and even your gum tissues. Your gums have bands of keratinised tissues at the bases of your teeth which form a type of mucosal barrier, isolating the tooth from surrounding gingival tissues. This barrier can be absent when a dental implant is installed, as it may have been compromised during the implant process.

The Tissues Supporting the Implant

It can be alarming when a dental implant seems to become uncomfortable. Remember that the implant and its prosthetic tooth don't have any living tissues, so can't actually register discomfort. Any discomfort around a dental implant will have originated in the tissues supporting the implant. This is often a sign of postoperative infection, which a dentist can quickly rule out. So how is an absence of keratinised tissue making your implant uncomfortable?

The Mucosal Barrier

The lack of a natural mucosal barrier around the implant is what is causing your discomfort. Without this barrier, any stimulation to the tooth emanates along the tooth's crown and is felt by its surrounding tissues. It's not the most pleasant experience, but there's nothing technically wrong with the implant itself, which is excellent news in these circumstances. However, you may still need treatment.

How the Issue Is Treated

Depending on your degree of discomfort, it's possible that no treatment is necessary. After an adjustment phase, you may stop feeling this type of irritation around your implant, which is the end of the issue. However, when direct intervention is needed, your dentist might perform a soft-tissue graft to the site to trigger keratinisation. The required tissues then form, and an adequate mucosal barrier is created. 

Discomfort associated with a new dental implant can be a little disturbing, but it doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with the implant. It might just be that there's a lack of keratinised tissues around the implant, which may need some time and assistance to develop.

For more information on dental implants, contact a professional near you.