Dental implant surgery is recommended for people with one or more missing teeth to restore their smile and teeth functions. This surgical procedure involves placing a metal post, usually made of titanium, on your jawbone to serve as an artificial tooth root for your replacement tooth. After the procedure, you must follow certain post-operative instructions for optimal healing and help prevent complications.
Read on to learn more about the dos and don’ts after dental implant surgery.
What Should I Expect During Dental Implant Surgery?
While the surgery is minor, it is an invasive procedure that requires you to be anaesthetised. Here are the things that you should expect during your procedure:
- Receiving of anaesthesia.
As mentioned, the area will be numbed so that you don’t feel pain. You will feel pressure, but it should not hurt. Dentists often use local anaesthetics but may also use sedatives or general anaesthetics if necessary. These are often given to patients with severe dental fear or complex cases.
- Dental implant placement.
Your dentist will make an incision on your gums to expose the bone underneath. They will drill a hole into the bone, and the titanium post will be implanted in it. They will stitch the gums to close any incisions. Then, they will give you temporary dentures that you can wear as the surgery site heals.
- Post-operative instructions.
Before you leave the dental clinic, your dentist will provide you with instructions for dental implant aftercare to avoid implant failure or complications. Note that you must wait several months for the implant to fuse with the surrounding bone and for the gums to heal before proceeding to the next step of the dental implant treatment. So, during recovery, you must religiously follow these post-operative instructions.
How Long Is the Recovery Period After Dental Implant Placement?
The healing period after surgery varies from patient to patient. This depends on how complicated the surgery is, how fast your body heals and how well you follow dental implant aftercare advice. For example, your healing time will take longer if you smoke or don’t keep the area around the implant clean.
Generally, it takes around three to six months for the post to fuse with the bone and for the gums to heal completely.
What Are the Dos and Don'ts After Dental Implant Surgery?
Here are the dos and don’t after dental implant surgery that you must follow to help you heal faster and avoid risks:
- Have someone drive you home.
The effects of local anaesthesia will start to wear off 2-4 hours after surgery. You might be groggy, tired, or in pain during this time and should not drive home from the dental clinic. If you receive sedatives or general anaesthetics, you may not be allowed to drive for 24 hours.
- Follow your dentist’s instructions for dental implant aftercare.
Your dentist will provide you with a list of instructions as to what you should do after the surgery for proper healing. For instance, take prescribed drugs for post-operative pain or antibiotic medications as instructed. If you have questions, ask them before leaving their dental office. Also, always attend your follow-up checkups so your dentist can monitor your recovery progress.
- Rinse with a warm saltwater solution.
Rinsing with warm salt water is a natural and safe way to clean your mouth and get rid of bacteria. You may start doing this 24 hours after the procedure. Mix about a half teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water and swish this around your mouth at least 2-3 times daily for the first few days. Be careful when swishing. Check if there is blood in your spit. If there is, bite on gauze for 20 minutes and discontinue rinsing for another 24 hours.
- Maintain good oral practices.
It’s essential to keep your mouth clean after dental implant surgery to lower the risk of infection. However, you must do this gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent irritating the incision in the surgical site. Use low-abrasive toothpaste containing fluoride. Flossing should be done as usual but avoid the surgical area. In addition, rinse your mouth after meals to help remove any food particles or food debris that may be stuck in your natural teeth. This can lead to tartar and plaque buildup, leading to tooth decay.
- Apply ice packs to your face.
Swelling and pain for the first 2 to 3 days after surgery are normal, and applying ice packs can help manage this. Place the icepack on your cheek or jaw for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, several times a day. Do this for the first 24 hours after your procedure.
- Eat soft foods for the first few days.
Stick to a cold and soft diet like jelly, yoghurt, ice cream, mashed potatoes, and soups, at least for the first week after surgery. This is to help the area heal and reduce irritation while getting enough nutrition.
- Rest as much as possible.
Take your time to rest and relax after dental implant surgery so that you can heal faster. Some patients can return to work or school the day after their surgery, but others have to wait two or more days. What’s important is to listen to your body to know when you’re ready.
- Do not touch the area.
Avoid touching or rubbing the implant site as it loosens the stitches, causes infection, or delays dental implant healing.
- Do not smoke.
Smoking after a dental implant procedure can increase your risk for complications, such as infection, and slow down your healing process. It’s recommended to stop this habit for at least 2 to 3 months after dental implant placement, by which time bone healing has progressed, and osseointegration has established. However, it’s always a good idea to quit altogether, as it can still cause implant failure in the future.
- Do not drink alcohol.
Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while you take antibiotics, as they can interfere with the medications and reduce their effectiveness.
- Do not drink from a straw for at least two weeks.
Sucking on a straw can cause the blood clot plugging the wound to detach and cause re-bleeding of the wound area.
- Avoid spicy and acidic foods and hot beverages for at least two weeks.
Hot foods or beverages can cause blood vessels to dilate, leading to re-bleeding in the implant site. Spicy and acidic foods or drinks can also cause pain in the wound area.
- Avoid hard, sticky, and chewy foods for the first 6 to 8 weeks.
Hard and crunchy foods, like chips and popcorn, and sticky foods, like gummy candies, can loosen the stitches or put too much pressure on the implant. This may cause the implant to dislodge. Wait for at least 6 to 8 weeks or until your dentist gives you the green light before eating these types of food again.
- Do not engage in strenuous activities for at least two weeks.
Strenuous activities like pushing or pulling heavy objects can cause bleeding on the implant site, so avoid these until you have fully healed from your surgery. You may do light activities such as walking to keep your body active, but nothing that requires too much physical exertion until your dentist gives you the go signal.
- Minimise using dentures that overlap the implant site for the first week.
If you have to wear a denture that goes over the implant, refrain from using it for the first week to avoid putting too much pressure on the implant site. You may use the denture as the implant site becomes more stable.
What Will Happen if I Fail to Follow These Instructions?
Following the mentioned dos and don’ts after dental implant surgery is vital to achieving a successful healing process. Failure to do so can increase your risk for infection and delay healing. It can also cause pain and discomfort, which could mean a longer recovery period. Also, following instructions is key to increasing the success of your dental implant. Always ask your dentist when in doubt.
Dental implant surgery is a minor procedure that requires special care for a successful outcome. It is important to follow your dentist’s instructions to reduce the risks of complications and for the implant site to heal properly. While recovery times may vary from one person to another, following these dos and don’ts can help you recover as quickly as possible.
If you are considering this oral surgery but have more c questions, talk to us about your options by calling us now.
Timberlands Dental Clinic is a modern dental clinic equipped with a state-of-the-art facility to help us provide you with quality dental treatments, including dental implants. We have a team of dentists with years of experience performing this dental surgery. During your initial dental visit, your dentist will examine your oral health and determine if you are a good candidate. If you are, they will discuss how the procedure works and explain the post-operative dos and don’ts so that you can achieve optimal results.
Frequently Asked Questions
A dental implant has three components: the implant post or screw, the abutment, and the prosthesis or tooth restoration (dental crown, bridge, or denture). The implant post is usually made of titanium and serves as the anchor or root of the implant. The abutment is attached to the post and serves as a connector between the post and the prosthesis. The prosthesis is the artificial tooth restoration placed on top of the abutment to complete your beautiful smile.
This varies depending on several factors, such as your location and dentist, how many implants you need, the complexity of your case, whether you need additional procedures (such as bone grafting, tooth extraction, or sinus lift), and whether or not you have dental funds. A single dental implant can average from \$4,000 to \$6,000. This is just an estimate, so it is better to ask your dentist for a more accurate quote.
On average, the lifespan of dental implants is 10 to 15 years. However, with proper care, you can use them for up to 25 years or more.
Aside from the usual wear and tear, dental implants may need to be replaced if they become loose, the abutment breaks, or the prosthesis is damaged due to trauma. In addition, you may also need to replace your implants when you start to experience gum recession, a condition wherein the gums pull away from the implant. This is usually caused by poor oral hygiene, resulting in plaque and bacteria buildup.