Dental implants drastically improve people’s lives by providing a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth and preserve facial structure. Dental implant surgery is extremely safe, with relatively low risk for complications experienced by very few people. Your oral surgeon will provide you with aftercare instructions specific to your situation, but it is important to know what to expect ahead of time.
Keep these things in mind for the time after your dental implant surgery:
- The space surrounding your new implant is an open wound. Treat it as such – this means no touching or disturbing the wound at all on the day of surgery, including rinsing or spitting. In the days after, continue to avoid touching the healing wound.
- There will be minor swelling. Swelling is normal after any surgery, and it is normal after a dental implant surgery as well, especially around the incision site. You can treat swelling with an ice pack on the cheek nearest the site of the surgery. To minimize swelling, keep the ice applied fairly continuously for the first few hours or so.
- There will be minor bleeding. Some amount of bleeding is normal within the first 24 hours, and biting down on a gauze pad for about 15 – 30 minutes can help. If bleeding remains excessive or persists, contact your oral surgeon.
- There will be some pain. Over-the-counter medications can help most pain associated with dental implants. You can begin taking them as soon as you begin to feel the effects of the local anesthesia wearing off. For more severe pain, you may take the prescription pain relievers as prescribed by your oral surgeon. With all the above medications, follow the advice of your oral surgeon.
- Take your antibiotics. You’ll be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infections and improve the acceptance rate of your implant. Take the full course, as prescribed.
- On the day of the surgery, stick to soft foods and avoid the surgical incision. After the first day, avoid excessively hot foods, spicy foods, chewy or sticky foods, and crunchy foods that tend to fragment such as chips and popcorn, as these can all irritate the incision site or become stuck in the wound.
- Exercise is important, but it can wait. Overexerting yourself can cause throbbing in the incision site and excess bleeding. Wait a few days to pick up your exercise routine to ensure your incision – and you – remain safe.
- Practice good oral hygiene. As always, it is important to brush your teeth. Do so gently, especially the night of surgery. To speed healing, you can rinse with warm salt water, but avoid harsh mouthwash.