Getting dental implants can be an exciting prospect. After the procedure, you may be able to do things you haven’t done in a long time — you may eat your favorite foods, smile and laugh without pain, and enjoy a beautiful smile.
Statistics show that more than 69% of adults between 35 and 44 years old have at least one tooth missing due to gum disease, tooth decay, or a failed root canal. Dentists perform hundreds of thousands of dental implant surgeries each year, making it a common and relatively uncomplicated procedure.
However, you may still face a total recovery time of several months before your dental implants fuse with the surrounding bone. While this recovery period might seem intimidating, the process doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right tips in mind, you can make your recovery as smooth as possible.
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about dental implant recovery.
What Dental Implant Recovery Looks Like
Before you go into the procedure, it helps to know what the recovery process entails. Each experience is individual, but you should expect some basic recovery steps.
Like any dental procedure, you could experience some pain and discomfort, including:
- Bruised gums
- Swollen face and gums
- Minor bleeding
- Pain around the implant
There’s no one recovery time for all patients, as the type of surgery, the number of teeth extracted, bone grafting, and individual healing times can all affect how long you’re in recovery. If you had surgery with no bone grafting, the pain might only last a few days — and you can get back to your regular diet after about a week. For more complex procedures, you may experience more pain. The dentist may recommend in these cases that you eat soft foods for up to six weeks after the procedure.
How to Recover From Dental Implant Surgery
Once you’ve completed the surgery and gone home, it’s time to take care of yourself. With the right tips in mind, you can make your recovery as quick and painless as possible.
Here are some of the top dental implant recovery tips:
1. Rest As Much As Possible
In the days after your appointment, you may still deal with pain and swelling. Take some time off. If you feel tired or worn down, it’s essential to listen to your body and get the rest that you need.
Even if you start to feel better, it’s best to avoid strenuous activities. These can lead to bleeding or other postoperative complications.
2. Follow Your Dentist’s Instructions
Before they send you home, your dentist will pass along instructions for recovery. Be sure to follow them carefully. The recommendations may give you a more detailed timeline of what to expect, along with some suggestions to make the process as smooth as possible. If you’ve been given pain medication or antibiotics, take them as directed by your dentist or doctor.
3. Take Care of Your Mouth
As your gums may still be tender and swollen post-surgery, it’s important to take good care of your mouth. Avoid directly brushing the sensitive areas around the implant for the first few days when you brush your teeth. If your mouth still feels sensitive, avoid harsh mouthwashes that might cause further gum irritation.
After any oral surgery, salt rinses can help decrease bacteria and soothe pain in the mouth. To make a saltwater rinse, add one teaspoon of salt to approximately eight ounces of warm water. Stir the salt to dissolve, and then swish a mouthful for about 30 seconds. Spit when you’re finished and repeat up to four times a day.
4. Use an Ice Pack
For the first few days, you might experience some bruising or swelling. Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain.
Use an ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel. Apply to your jaw for about 30 minutes, and then remove for another 30 minutes to avoid damaging the skin. Repeat as desired for the first 24 hours. If you’ve had an implant added on both sides of the mouth, switch sides each time.
After a few days, swelling should go down, and you can stop using ice. However, if the swelling continues, this could be a sign of an infection. Contact your dentist right away.
5. Avoid Disturbing the Blood Clot
A blood clot will form after the implant is placed and your dentist puts pressure on the wound. This is a natural part of the healing process that keeps your incision from bleeding.
Do your best to avoid disturbing this clot as your wounds heal. You should avoid physical activity — especially those that can lead to a blow to your mouth, like sports. Avoid any vigorous chewing, drinking, or spitting.
6. Watch What You Eat
Anywhere between a week and six weeks after your operation, eat only soft, cool foods. Focus on foods that require little to no chewing, as jaw movement can irritate the surgery site. Good soft foods to eat post-surgery include:
- Instant oatmeal
- Mashed potatoes
- Smoothies or shakes
As your incision heals, you can gradually progress to foods that require some chewing. However, be sure to avoid foods that are especially tough or chewy. Also, avoid foods that are too hot, cold, or spicy, as they can cause bleeding and irritation.
7. Stay Hydrated
Proper hydration is an important part of the healing process. In addition to speeding the recovery process, staying hydrated will make you feel better and more energized post-surgery.
Drink plenty of water and other fluids each day. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol — both are known to dehydrate the body. Alcohol can also irritate the mouth and disrupt healing.
8. Track Your Symptoms
It’s essential to pay attention to your symptoms as you move through recovery. After researching and speaking with your dentist, you should know what to expect. If anything deviates from your recovery instructions — like swelling that lasts longer than it should — it can’t hurt to contact your dentist.
Keep an eye out for alarming signs like fever, pus, or swelling that lasts longer than a few days. Also, watch out for any difficulty breathing or swallowing, which could signify an allergic reaction to the anesthetic. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, contact your dentist immediately and go to the emergency room.
9. Follow Up With Your Dentist
Even if your recovery goes without a hitch, make sure you follow up with your dentist when needed. Show up to any scheduled appointments so your dentist can make sure your mouth is healing properly.
Speeding Up Your Dental Implant Recovery
Getting dental implants can seem intimidating, but it’s an uncomplicated surgical procedure with a high success rate of 90 to 95%. Following the proper steps at home post-surgery can play a significant role in ensuring your recovery is quick, smooth, and relatively painless. While each patient’s experience is different, your dentist can walk you through all the steps you need to take care of yourself when you get home. Be sure to commit to your dentist’s post-operative instructions to get the best possible results.
When going into a surgical procedure, you must have a dentist you trust to take care of you and deliver the best possible results. That’s where denTEL can help. Using our online platform, you can connect with highly ranked dentists in your area and learn more about what they offer. Find the best qualified dentist for your dental implant surgery today.