28 Feb A Patient’s Complete Guide for Dental Implant Aftercare
Are you planning to have a dental implant,? If so, you need to know how to take care of the site of your implant. Your doctor will give you specific instructions for your dental implant aftercare.
Read the following guide to learn about the procedure and what to expect after each step.
The Purpose of Dental Implants
Dental implants replace missing teeth. They can also help secure bridgework and dentures in place. The placement of dental implants helps to stimulate bone growth in the jaw due to lost teeth.
This procedure can increase your nutritional health by improving your chewing. It helps with speaking and can even make you look younger.
Who Can Get Dental Implants?
In most cases, individuals of any age can get dental implants. There are several factors that lead to better outcomes following the procedure. These include:
- A strong commitment to good oral hygiene
- An adequate amount of jawbone to hold the implant
- General health
- Healthy gums
- History of having regular dental checkups
Some factors may exclude a person from having dental implants. You may not be a candidate if:
- You’re a heavy smoker
- Have an uncontrolled disease such as diabetes or heart problems
- Have undergone head or neck radiation therapy
Your doctor will do a complete history and physical before recommending this procedure.
Steps Involved in Getting Dental Implants
Dental implants involve several steps. The plan of care is unique for each patient according to their needs.
If the jawbone is too soft or not thick enough to hold the implant, you may need a bone graft. This involves surgery with anesthesia.
The doctor may use natural bone from another place on your body to repair your jaw. Another option is a synthetic bone material that allows new bone to grow into it. You will need to wait several months for the new bone to become strong enough for the implant.
Care Following a Bone Graft
After the bone graft, you may have pain or numbness at first. Your doctor may prescribe pain medicine and/or antibiotics. Take the medicine as instructed.
Avoid disturbing the surgical area so the tissues can heal. Strong chewing, spitting, or excess rinsing can cause bleeding or infection. You can expect a little bleeding for the first one to two days.
The doctor will put gauze sponges in your mouth and have you bite down to apply pressure during the first hour. Add a new sponge for thirty more minutes if it continues to bleed.
Don’t sleep or eat with the gauze in your mouth. Call your doctor if the bleeding continues or restarts.
Limit physical activity for the first 24 to 48 hours and keep your head elevated. Use an ice pack on the side of your face for 30 to 45 minutes every hour to help with pain and swelling.
You can begin drinking or eating clear fluids when the bleeding has stopped. Do drink hot liquids while your mouth is numb. Avoid using straws because the suction can disturb clots.
Slowly increase your diet to soft foods. Don’t eat hard foods such as nuts, popcorn, or any foods with seeds. Take routine medications unless your doctor gave you different instructions.
Try not to smoke because this interferes with the healing process. Don’t drive, operate heavy machinery, or drink alcohol for 24 hours after the surgery. This restriction continues while you are taking prescription pain medicine.
Placement of the Dental Implant
You will receive anesthesia for the dental implant procedure. The surgeon makes a small cut into your gum to reach the bone. Holes are then drilled into the bone.
The surgeon slides the implant deep into the jawbone. The titanium implant stimulates the bone to grow. Over several months, the implant becomes covered with bone creating a solid base.
Dental Implant Care After Surgery
Many of the instructions are the same as post-bone graft care. The incision is often closed with dental implant stitches which decreases bleeding. A small amount of bleeding may continue for 24 hours.
Keep the gauze pack in place and continue to bite down to apply firm pressure for about an hour. Add new gauze and continue the pressure as needed. Always call your doctor for prolonged or increased bleeding.
Don’t pull on your lip or disturb the site. Avoid excessing spitting, rinsing, or strong chewing.
You may notice swelling for two or three days. Keep your head elevated and use ice packs on the side of your face. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking pain medication.
On the day after your procedure, begin rinsing your mouth with warm salt water three to four times a day. Brush your teeth and gums but be very careful near the surgical site. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide or devices that spray water in your mouth.
After the bleeding stops and you remove the gauze, you may start eating soft foods. Avoid anything with sharp edges and don’t chew over the implant site. Don’t use straws for 24 hours.
You may return to a normal diet slowly as tolerated.
Rest and limit activity for the first 24 to 48 hours to increase your comfort and decrease bleeding. Do not smoke for at least three days because this slows healing and increases infection risk.
Placement of an Abutment Followed by the Crown
An abutment is a platform that the artificial tooth or crown sits on. Some doctors place this when they insert the implant. Others do this as a separate procedure.
This minor surgery is often completed in the office with local anesthesia. The surgeon reopens the gum and attaches the abutment to the implant. The gum is then sutured closed around the abutment.
After about two weeks, the gum will heal. The next step is the placement of the crown.
Dental Implant Aftercare
After completing the dental implant process, it’s up to you to take great care of your mouth. The dental implant will act like a natural tooth and needs the same care. You must brush and floss daily.
See your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. Avoid chewing anything hard that can break your teeth or the implant. Limit caffeine products and tobacco because they can stain your teeth.
Do You Need Dental Care?
With this overview of dental implant aftercare, you are ready to proceed. If you need a dentist, Alicia Dental has over 25 years of experience caring for dental patients. Our services range from general cleanings to major cosmetic procedures.
Call our office today to schedule a dental consultation.