Proper care during recovery is essential to ensure the success of dental implants. Good care immediately following surgery and for the entire recovery period will significantly decrease the chance of implant failure. If you are preparing for surgery you will be given instructions tailored to your individual case, but below is a general reference for what to expect during the recovery period. Visit our downtown Boston office to learn more.
The total healing time after the implant process will depend on your individual case. Your implant dentist at CITIDental High Street will be able to give you more specific information. The implant itself can take 4-6 months to fully and permanently integrate with the bone. If you receive bone grafts as a separate procedure before the implant surgery, there will be an additional 4 months of healing before the implant can be placed. In the case of implants with a separate post and abutment, the gum will be allowed to heal over the implant, and another operation will be required to place the abutment and crown, which is not necessary in the case of one-piece implants. If you need one or more teeth removed before a procedure, that can also change the recovery time. In total, the time from the initial operation to full recovery can be as little as 4 months or can be over 1 year. These times will always be faster if you are diligent in practicing the regimen of care recommended at the time of your surgery.
Pain & Management
Although the surgery to place dental implants is surprisingly painfree, some patients do experience some soreness during the day or so following the procedure. Often, over-the-counter pain killers will be enough, but we are happy to prescribe something stronger, which you should begin taking before the surgical anesthetic wears off. For patients who do experience pain, it typically peaks around six hours after surgery, and will gradually subside. Some discomfort is normal, but if the prescription painkillers are insufficient or if you continue to experience severe pain for more than a couple of days, let us know as soon as possible. Also, remember to plan ahead; if you think you may need painkillers over the weekend, call us ahead of time during business hours.
Immediately after surgery, you will likely experience a small amount of bleeding, which can be controlled by biting down firmly on gauze so that it puts pressure on the surgical site. You may continue to have small amounts of bleeding/oozing for up to 48 hours after surgery. Keep in mind that being mixed with saliva can make a small amount of blood look larger. If bleeding is uncontrolled or excessive, contact our office.
Swelling & Bruising
Swelling after surgery is normal and will increase gradually for the first 2-3 days. To minimize swelling, apply an ice pack during the first 24 hours of recovery. The ice pack should be used for 20 minutes at a time with breaks of 20 minutes in between. Bruising is also normal and may appear within the first few days.
As with any surgery, physical exertion too soon after the procedure can cause complications. Plan for at least 1 day without strenuous activity following your surgery. During this time, be careful when first standing up, as this can cause lightheadedness. After the first day, you will have more mobility, but you still should not engage in exercise, bending, lifting, or other strenuous activities until at least 3-4 days after surgery.
It is important to keep the surgical site clean to prevent infection and promote healing. Brush your teeth as normal; however, avoid the surgical site and any sutures. You may be given an antibiotic rinse to keep the surgical site clean. You should also rinse with saltwater (1 tablespoon of salt to 8 ounces of water) at least 2-3 times per day after eating.
To speed healing, you should take special care around the implant site. Don’t touch the wound, as this can introduce infection as well as risking damage. When brushing and flossing, avoid the incision and any sutures. Take care when chewing to protect the incision from damage and to avoid contaminating it with food. As much as possible, leave the implant site alone until it has healed.
In general, any food that you can eat comfortably is appropriate after implant surgery. You may find that liquids and soft foods are easier immediately following surgery, and you should avoid chewing while your tongue is numb, but you should be able to eat solids within the first few days. Avoid hot or spicy foods and anything that can become lodged in the implant site, such as popcorn or sunflowers seeds.
Nutrition is vital to healing. Make sure to consume plenty of fluids, and eat nourishing foods, which will help you to recover. Although discomfort and inactivity may make you less hungry than usual, try not to skip meals.
Tobacco use can have a serious impact on dental implants and dramatically increases the risk that an implant will fail. It can introduce infection and dry out your sockets. At a minimum, you should not smoke or use tobacco for the first 2 weeks following surgery.
Minor Side Effects
After oral surgery, you may experience discomfort due to some of the common side effects of this procedure, including dry or chapped lips, a sore throat, a stiff jaw, and some nausea. The sore throat and jaw will resolve on their own within a few days. Dry lips can be cared for as normal using vaseline or lip balm. Nausea and vomiting can be due to a number of factors, including the surgical anesthetic, pain medications, and general discomfort. Small amounts of soda or bland food such as crackers can help limit nausea. If the nausea persists, call our office.
Later In Recovery
Discomfort, swelling, bleeding, and pain related to the surgery should all subside within a few days after the procedure. While you will have more freedom to resume your routine, you should continue to pay special attention to your hygiene and use the antibiotic rinse provided for as long as recommended. Although the implant will grow steadier over time, it is still integrating. Do not prod or put pressure on it, and try to keep it free of food and debris. The more it is left alone to heal free of interference and infection, the more quickly your dental implant will integrate into your mouth and become just another part of your healthy, beautiful smile.
Why Choose CITIDental High Street
At CITIDental High Street, we are dedicated to excellence in comprehensive oral health and dental care services. Our goal is to meet all your needs with the talents and skills of different specialties in one office – that is what comprehensive means. We offer a complete range of cosmetic services, preventive care, and restorative care right in the heart of the financial district. Contact us today for an appointment.Request an appointment