The fear of pain and a prolonged recovery is enough to keep a lot of people from getting the dental care they need, no matter how life-changing. Dental implants—with a reputation as one of the more extensive treatments taking place sometimes over months—are high up on that list.
It’s true—healing after a dental implant procedure does take time, much like any other recovery period after surgery. But once the implants are placed and your new teeth are attached, any time spent in recovery will pale in comparison to the benefits of regaining full dental function.
More importantly, there’s a lot you can do to ensure a smooth recovery, so you can eat, talk, and smile with full ease and confidence. It starts here: finding out everything you need to know about recovering from your dental implant procedure, from day one to the next few weeks.
How long do dental implants take to heal?
Generally, it’s common to experience some pain or discomfort after your dental implant surgery. But this will gradually subside, and you will be able to slowly resume your daily routine, with some modifications, such as staying on a soft-food diet for a while.
Keep in mind that there is a recovery period at nearly every stage of the entire dental implant procedure. This includes recovery from a bone graft, if your periodontist finds that your jawbone has deteriorated and needs to be strengthened in order to support the implant. As well, there is a waiting period—called osseointegration—during which the implant fuses with the jawbone, and only after can new dental crowns be attached.
Most importantly, remember that everyone’s oral health condition and needs are unique, resulting in varying recovery times. But as a general guide, here are some key factors that determine your recovery period:
- The number and location of missing teeth, and dental implants placed
- Whether or not you require a bone graft—an added step for strengthening your jawbone, in preparation for dental implants
- Your oral and overall health, and lifestyle habits like smoking, can slow down healing.
Do dental implants hurt?
Perhaps every patient’s number one question—and for many, a major deterrent that keeps them from getting dental implants. Like with any dental procedure or oral surgery, it’s normal to experience pain after your dental implant procedure.
For simple procedures, such as getting only one dental implant, and your jawbone is healthy and does not require grafting, you can expect minimal discomfort. This typical post-op discomfort can escalate with moderate and complex dental implant procedures, resulting in swelling, bruising, and increased pain.
However, it’s important to remember that everyone has a different tolerance for pain. As well, your periodontist can advise you on taking over-the-counter pain medication after the procedure to relieve any discomfort. They can also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infections and complications, and ensure a smooth recovery.
Tips for Successful Recovery from Dental Implants
Your periodontist is responsible for ensuring your health and safety throughout the dental implant procedure. But how well and fast you recover is a joint effort—and there’s a lot you can do at home to ensure a successful recovery, so you can enjoy the benefits of dental implants in no time. Here, our periodontists share the most important recovery tips:
1.Follow post-op care instructions
Prior to your dental implant surgery, your periodontist will provide you with instructions for post-op care. Make sure to follow them closely, especially immediately after.
Generally, immediate post-op care includes:
- Take the day off and make arrangements for someone to take you home. You shouldn’t drive, since the anesthesia causes drowsiness.
- Take pain medication as prescribed to relieve discomfort.
- Bite down on gauze pads for at least an hour to apply gentle pressure that alleviates bleeding. Then, change gauze ads every half-hour to an hour throughout the day, until the bleeding subsides.
- Avoid touching or disturbing the surgical area.
- Rinse your mouth with salt water or a prescribed mouthwash after 24 hours to maintain oral hygiene.
- Follow a soft-food diet.
- Apply an ice pack in 20-minute increments to relieve swelling.
2. Take it easy for the first week
Following the initial 24-hour period after your dental implant procedure, you still need to take it easy for the rest of the week. During this first week of recovery, you can resume normal brushing and flossing, while avoiding the surgical site.
You may also be able to include more foods back in your diet, as long as they’re soft. This keeps you from exerting pressure on the site of the implant. Once fully healed, you can eat to your heart’s content—exactly the goal of replacing missing teeth and restoring full dental function with dental implants.
3. Avoid strenuous activities
Take a few days to relax after your dental implant procedure. Afterwards, you can slowly resume your normal routine, with caution. Make sure to avoid strenuous activities, such as heavy lifting or vigorous exercise during this time, as these can dislodge the blood clots forming at the incision site, resulting in bleeding and longer recovery time.
4. Modify your lifestyle habits
During recovery, pay attention to, or change some everyday habits. Avoid drinking soda, alcohol, or any other liquid from a straw. As well, refrain from smoking and spitting. These habits can easily disturb the surgical site where blood clots are forming to allow the incision to heal.
5. Eat a healthy soft foods diet
Proper nutrition is the cornerstone of good health—and it’s even more crucial when you’re recovering from a dental implant procedure. Make sure you’re getting all the essential vitamins and minerals while eating only soft foods. Periodontists recommend oatmeal, yogurt, soup, applesauce, bread, and eggs. Avoid foods in the extremes—too hot or too cold, chewy or tough, and spicy.
6 . Pay attention to your recovery
You know your body best. Once you’re home, make sure to monitor yourself and the progress of your recovery. Take note of symptoms, such as a fever, infection, or prolonged swelling, and difficulty breathing and swallowing. Don’t dismiss any of these, and make sure to call your periodontist right away or seek emergency care to address these complications.
7. Keep up with follow-up appointments
Most importantly, make sure to return for all your post-surgery follow-up appointments. This allows your periodontist to monitor your progress and determine when it’s time to move to the next step, such as whether the implant has fused with the jawbone and your replacement teeth can be attached. They can also check for any complications, and ensure optimal healing.
A Smooth Recovery and Successful Dental Implants with Periodontal Associates
At Periodontal Associates, our periodontists in Mississauga are dedicated to ensuring a fast and smooth recovery. We are here for you at every step of the process—from initial consultation to bone graft, implantation, and complete tooth restoration.
Our periodontists closely monitor you post-op to prevent any complications and provide dedicated post-op emergency care for dental implant procedures. With rigorous, attentive, and accessible post-op care in Mississauga, we can ensure the success of your dental implants and a renewed quality of life.
Going in for your dental implant procedure? Our periodontists can answer all your questions about recovery. Contact Periodontal Associates in Mississauga today.