Dental implants may be one of the most effective ways of replacing missing teeth and restoring the function and beauty of your smile, but as you are almost certainly aware, the procedure to place them is very invasive and requires a significant recovery period. Knowing what to expect can considering help patients to prepare for the healing process and recovery and reassure them throughout this time. Although every patient is unique and every recovery can be different, here’s what you need to know about what you can expect to happen following your dental implant procedure.
Dealing with discomfort
Unfortunately, some discomfort is inevitable following a dental implant procedure. The implant posts will have been surgically placed into your jawbone and this requires incisions into your gum tissue and drilling down into the bone. Although the procedure will be done using an anesthetic, once this wears off, you will have some degree of discomfort to contend with. Some patients find that they can manage perfectly well with over the counter pain relief. However, others need to use prescription pain medications – at least for the first few days when the discomfort is at its most severe. Always be sure to take any medication exactly as directed.
Although the wounds will essentially be closed by the implants, some bleeding is to be expected in the first 48 hours following your surgery. This isn’t normally excessive and will ease up after the first few hours. Make sure that you bite down on the gauze that you are given, which will help to stem the flow of blood and enable it to be soaked up. Be sure not to use a straw when drinking for the first week after your procedure as the vacuum it creates could cause any blood clots that develop over the wounds to be dislodged, starting the bleeding again.
Unfortunately, you will also need to make some adjustments to your diet following your dental implant procedure. A liquid and then soft food diet are typically recommended for the first week, but it is important to follow the advice given to you by your dental implant surgeon. Trying to eat anything ill-advised too quickly could lead to complications arising, potentially impacting on the success of your procedure. You should find that you are able to eat normally after around 7-10 days, but for some patients, it can take a little longer.
If you are usually a smoker, you will have been advised not to smoke either before your procedure or for at least 6 weeks afterward. This is because smoking hugely increases your risk of complications and slows down the rate of healing. If you can, use this opportunity to quit for good – your dental and general health will improve if you do!
Taking care of your mouth and teeth
You shouldn’t stop taking care of your teeth just because your mouth is healing. Initially, you will be recommended to brush the area around the implant very lightly, taking great care not to cause any trauma to the gum tissue. As your levels of pain and sensitivity reduce, you will gradually be able to get back to your usual brushing technique and pressure.
In addition to brushing your teeth as normal, you will also need to take special steps to keep your wounds clean. You will be advised to rinse your mouth with salt water 2-3 times a day for the first few days, holding the saltwater in your mouth over the affected area for a minute or so each time, which will help to prevent infection and keep the area clean. After a few days, you can also resume using mouthwash.
It is essential that you follow all post-dental implant procedure advice and instructions issued to you by your dental implant surgeon. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to them for clarification.