Dental implant surgery takes you one step closer to restoring your smile and improving your oral comfort. While surgery may seem intimidating at first, remember that your surgeon has performed this procedure many times. You will receive anesthesia to numb the area and help you relax, but you may be wondering what happens after surgery is over? How do you care for your newly placed dental implant?
Here are some general guidelines for promoting recovery and minimizing complications.
Once you have a surgical date scheduled, plan to take the following two to three days off work or school. This will give you time to rest, relax, and manage any discomfort. It is also a good idea to arrange for someone to drive you home, as you will not be allowed to drive yourself after receiving anesthesia. You will also want to take a break from any strenuous activity such as vigorous exercise for several days, so you do not disturb the surgical site.
Immediately After Surgery
Your mouth may feel numb or swollen after dental implant surgery, but that is normal. Avoid the temptation to touch the surgical site with your tongue or your finger. The area should be kept clean and undisturbed so a blood clot can form. If you experience any bleeding, firmly bite down on a piece of gauze for 30 to 60 minutes until the bleeding has stopped. Using a cool, damp tea bag can also be beneficial as the tannic acid in the tea helps to constrict the blood vessels and form a clot.
Pain or Discomfort
As soon as you notice the anesthesia wearing off, take a pain reliever such as ibuprofen or Motrin to stay ahead of any pain. Placing an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel on the outside of your cheek can help soothe any aches and reduce swelling. Apply and remove the ice pack in 20-minute intervals. After the first 24 hours, you can switch to a warm, moist compress instead. You may experience swelling for several days, but it will slowly resolve.
For the first 24 hours, refrain from rinsing your mouth or brushing your teeth. This will give the surgical site time to heal and minimize excess bleeding. After the first day, you can gently brush your teeth while avoiding contact with the dental implant. Swishing warm salt water and letting it carefully spill out of your mouth into the sink can also help reduce the risk of infection and bleeding. Your surgeon may recommend using a special mouth wash.
On the day of your surgery should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and keep your mouth moist. You can have water, smoothies, milkshakes, juice, or lukewarm tea but should steer clear of carbonated beverages, hot drinks, and using a straw. The force from sucking through a straw can dislodge any blood clots and put stress on the dental implant, potentially interfering with healing.
After the first day, you can begin eating soft foods that do not require much chewing, such as:
- Well-cooked pasta
- Scrambled eggs
- Mashed potatoes
You can slowly incorporate other foods into your diet as tolerated, being careful to chew on the opposite side of your mouth from the dental implant. You do not want to put direct pressure on the site.
How Long Does It Take for Dental Implants to Heal?
The surgical site will heal after several days, but that does not mean that recovery is finished. Much of the healing is taking place below the gums and is not visible. It can take 10 to 12 weeks for the dental implant to integrate with the existing bone and form a strong foundation for your replacement tooth (a process called osseointegration).
It is important to be patient and not to rush this process. If the implant is not fully stabilized before being used, it can increase the risk of implant failure or complications. Your surgeon will follow up with you periodically after surgery to ensure that the site is healing properly, and the bone is fusing with the implant. Do not be afraid to share any questions or concerns you may have during this time.
What Are the Next Steps?
Once osseointegration has occurred, you are ready to receive your new crown. A small connector called an abutment will be attached to the top of the dental implant. The surgeon may need to make a small incision in the gum to expose the tip of the implant if it was covered after surgery. Your dentist will create a replacement tooth that matches the shape, size, and color of your existing teeth and connect it to the abutment.
Your new tooth is now securely in place. It will look, feel, and function just like a natural tooth and is cared for the same way. You will want to continue your daily brushing and flossing routine to keep all your teeth – including your dental implant – healthy.
Replace Missing Teeth and Create a Full Smile with Dental Implants
If you are tired of dealing with the challenges of having missing teeth, or know that you will be facing tooth extraction, schedule a consultation with the surgeons at Mosaic Oral Surgery to learn more about how you could benefit from dental implants. We support you every step of the way, creating a positive and comfortable experience to restore your smile.