Everything You Need to Know About Dental Implant Surgery Recovery
If your dentist has recommended a dental implant surgery procedure, you may be wondering what to expect. Surgical procedures make most of us nervous – but knowing what to do during the dental implant surgery recovery process can make things a bit easier.
Dental implant surgery is a fairly common procedure. The popularity of dental implant surgeries has been steadily increasing over the past few years. It is now estimated that 5 million dental implant procedures occur every year.
Healing from dental implant surgery takes time, and failing to follow the proper procedures can slow down this process. Additionally, it could increase the likelihood of complications, infection, and overall discomfort.
While dental implant surgery recovery will look different to every patient, there are some things you should know to help make the process a bit more manageable.
Let’s dive in.
1. What are Dental Implants Used For?
The purpose of dental implants is to replace one or more teeth for both aesthetic and health purposes. Nearly two-thirds of adults between the ages of 35 to 44 have at least one missing tooth due to disease, an accident, or decay.
Dental implants are prosthetics made of a titanium post that is inserted into the jaw bone. The visible portion of the implant is made of porcelain or ceramic materials to mimic the look of a natural tooth.
Dental implants are an alternative option to dentures – since they are permanently secured. They may also be used to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or even a full row.
Dental implants are different from crowns and bridges. A crown is placed on top of the tooth to restore any areas that are chipped or damaged. A bridge replaces a missing tooth, but it is attached by teeth on either side of it. Dental implants are unique because they are connected through a titanium screw that is inserted through the gum and into the bone.
The reason why dentists recommend dental implants for some patients is that it does not compromise the health of nearby teeth – as bridges and crowns can. It is also more secure and comfortable than using full or partial dentures.
2. What to Expect During Dental Implant Surgery
The dental implant surgery process happens in stages, which can take a few weeks to a few months depending on the individual situation.
First, the patient meets for a consultation with their dentist for a personalized dental implant treatment plan. The dentist may take some X-rays and examine the remaining teeth to make sure no other dental health issues could interfere with the procedure. For example, gum disease or existing cavities would likely need treatment before the patient could have dental implant surgery.
The next step will be extracting any of the teeth that will be replaced with a dental implant. Even though the visible portion of the tooth may be missing, the dentist will need to extract the root and any fragments before the implant can be inserted. This procedure is done under local anesthesia so there is no pain.
Bone grafting may be required to strengthen and prepare the jaw bone for dental implant surgery. This is done by overlaying harvested or synthetic bone tissue until it secures the bone underneath.
Finally, the dental implant will be surgically inserted into the jaw bone. You may only need local anesthesia for this procedure – but if you are especially anxious, your dentist may suggest sedation dentistry options.
Once the titanium implant is inserted, a temporary cap will be attached to the top to protect the gum and jaw bone as it heals. This entire procedure takes about 30 minutes per implant, but it can take between 2 to 6 months for the implant to fully integrate into the bone.
After the implant is fully secured and healed, the permanent prosthetic tooth crown (called the abutment) will be attached.
3. How to Support Dental Implant Surgery Recovery
Since the implant is inserted into the gum and jaw bone, there will certainly be pain and sensitivity right after the surgery. The surrounding area will likely be swollen and you may have some bleeding or bruising in the days following the procedure.
Immediately following the procedure, a gauze pack will be firmly held in place over the dental implant to reduce bleeding. It is important to keep this pack on for about 30 minutes or until the bleeding stops.
Holding an icepack or cold compress to any swollen areas can provide some relief.
It is also recommended to sit upright – rather than lying down flat – for the first 24 hours after the surgery. This will help to reduce excessive swelling.
Take it easy for the first few days after the procedure and rest as much as possible to promote quicker healing.
4. What to Look out for During Dental Implant Surgery Recovery
Although you may feel some pain and discomfort for the first few days after dental implant surgery, this should subside. However, if you experience extreme pain or sensitivity, you should contact your dentist. Any excessive bleeding, swelling, or pain could be a sign of infection or other problems that your dentist will need to assess.
Your dentist may prescribe pain medication to help with this, but over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can be used as directed. Your dentist might prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection or recommend using a syringe known as a Sockit. This uses an antibacterial gel that is applied to the area to soothe discomfort and prevent infection.
You should also keep up with routine oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly following the procedure. Just take care to gently brush around the implant until it is fully healed.
5. How to Care for Implants After Surgery
To support an optimal dental implant surgery recovery process, avoid things that could irritate the area as it heals. For instance, you should not use a straw for the first few weeks after surgery, as this could disturb the blood clot around the healing area.
Some other things to avoid include:
- Chewing gum
- Eating hard or chewy foods (stick to a liquid diet for a few days with smoothies, applesauce, and ice cream instead!)
- Touching the area with your tongue
- Excessive exercise for the first few days
Following these tips will help with the recovery process so the implant heals correctly. The safer you are, the lower the chances of complications will be!
After a few weeks or months, your dentist will schedule a follow-up to make sure that the implant has healed correctly. The permanent crown will then be attached and you can take pride in a beautiful, natural-looking smile!
Dental implants can be treated like your other teeth once it is fully healed. You can floss and brush the implant as normal. Be sure to keep up with routine cleanings from your dentist to keep all of your remaining teeth healthy and clean.
The best way to ensure you have an easy and speedy dental implant surgery recovery is by having a great dentist. You need a dentist you can trust to make sure you are comfortable each step of the way.
At Jones & Copeland Smiles, our goal is to create personalized treatment plans for patients to create the smile they’ve always wanted.
We offer numerous dental solutions, including dental implant surgery. You can even take a virtual consultation and schedule a visit online to get started!