If you have decided to get dental implants to replace your missing teeth, then you have made an excellent decision. Dental implants can provide numerous advantages over dentures. One of the reasons dental implants are the gold standard in tooth replacement is that they are surgically implanted into the jawbone. Although this surgery is quite straightforward and designed to go smoothly, you may be wondering what to expect as you come home after surgery.
Dental implant recovery depends on a number of factors, including the specific type of dental implant you choose, the number of teeth being replaced and whether or not bone grafting is needed. Regardless of how extensive your dental implant surgery is, however, you will need to take your recovery very seriously. Once your implant has been placed, there should be diligent care and hygiene around the implant area. This is critical to ensure proper fusing of the implant and bone structure over the next month following surgery.
In addition to diligent cleaning efforts, here are some more care instructions for your dental implant surgery recovery:
Do Not Disturb: It is important that for the first 24 hours after surgery you avoid disturbing the wound site. No rinsing, spitting or touching this area so that the site is kept germ-free and the sutures are not irritated.
Take Antibiotics: You should remember to take the prescribed antibiotics following surgery. This is a critical step to prevent infection and serious complications.
Start Rinsing: After the first day, your dentist will likely recommend you start rinsing with a prescribed oral rinse and/or a warm saltwater several times a day.
Expect Minimal Bleeding: For the first 24 hours, it is very normal to have blood in your saliva. It is helpful to bite down on gauze pads to control and reduce blood flow.
Manage Pain: Try to take any over-the-counter pain medication (or one prescribed by your dentist) before the anesthesia wears off. Staying ahead of the pain can help dramatically.
Soft Diet: Stick to a soft foods diet for the first 5-7 days to reduce discomfort. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
Expect Some Swelling: You may notice a small amount of swelling following surgery. To minimize this, try to keep your head elevated, lower your activity level and apply ice packs for the first couple of days.
No Smoking: Do not smoke for a minimum of 2 weeks after dental implant surgery. Smoking after this procedure has been known to increase risk of infection, inhibit healing and contribute to overall dental implant failure.
Again, your recovery experience will be unique to you. Healing from the surgical procedure to place the dental implants can take up to six months, while the fitting and seating of the crowns can take up to two months. It is most important that you listen carefully to your implant surgeon’s guidelines and follow-up as instructed after surgery. Keep in mind that when properly cared for, dental implants last a lifetime.