The following article is a dentist-prepared guide to the important questions you must ask your dentist before surgery and tips to make the implant heal faster. Let’s start talking about dental implant aftercare!
Tips for effective dental implant aftercare
After the dental implant surgery, dentists send off patients with several aftercare tips. If you want your implants to heal faster and last for a long time, these are the ways to follow persistently. These tips help one to properly take care of their implants in both the short and the long term.
- Use a damp gauze to stop the bleeding
- Ice pack two times a day to relieve swelling
- Painkillers for pain management
- Oral hygiene should be on point
- Healthy lifestyle for quick recovery
- Switch to a soft food diet for 2-3 weeks post-surgery
- Protect your teeth, wear a nightguard
- Follow your post-surgery dental evaluation
Use a damp gauze to stop the bleeding
Placing a dental implant involves opening the tooth’s gum tissue, this is why minor bleeding or a clot is normal. It is important to find a way to stop the bleeding so that the implanted tooth can heal faster. Our dentists recommend getting a damp gauze and biting down on it for at least 30 minutes to one hour. This allows the patient to put pressure on the tooth so the blood clots.
There is another way of stopping the blood but it is important to ask your dentist before trying this or any other remedy. Another popular remedy for stopping blood after implant surgery is biting down on cool tea bags for at least 30 minutes. Black tea bags are better because they contain the highest level of tannins.
Black tea is known for having biomolecules called tannins. These biomolecules speed up the healing process of the wound by constricting the blood vessels. The constriction of blood vessels limits the blood flow to the affected area and encourages coagulation. Once blood coagulates you can expect the bleeding to stop.
Ice pack two times a day to relieve swelling
Facial swelling or bruising is fairly common after implant surgery due to the opening of gum tissue. Ice packs are good when this happens because they help bring the swelling down. You can also make an icepack at home with 5 to 6 ice cubes wrapped in a muslin cloth. Ice pack the area on the face where the implant is for at least 15 minutes and try not to press it too hard.
You can expect the swelling to come down in 3 to 4 days if you consistently ice-pack the area. This is one of the easiest and most convenient ways of bringing post-op swelling down.
Pain killer for pain management
It is quite natural to feel slight pain after the surgery because of the invasive procedure. Dentists usually prescribe medicines to take care of the pain but sometimes they don’t.
The most common painkillers to manage pain during the healing period are Ibruprofen or Paracetamol. They are available over the counter and are taken every 4-6 hours. However, please confirm with your dentist before using any painkiller to avoid any complications.
Oral hygiene should be on point
The patient’s oral care habits and general awareness plays a huge role in the healing and maintenance of implants. After the surgery, the patient needs to keep the implanted teeth clean to prevent any complications. The three cardinal rules are rinsing, brushing, and flossing. Post-surgery the implants are prone to problems because they are sensitive and in the healing process. Therefore, keeping the teeth clean is crucial at this point.
However, do not rinse your teeth at least 24 hours after the surgery because the surgical site is sensitive. After 24 hours, practice oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly. Get a toothbrush with soft bristles and less abrasive toothpaste. Avoid harsh movements while brushing and flossing to avoid complications and for the implants to heal quickly.
Healthy lifestyle for quick recovery
Taking care of your health is of utmost importance, especially after surgery. A healthy lifestyle helps the body to recover faster and gain strength. Along with good oral hygiene, try to consume soft healthy foods such as oatmeal, fruit smoothies, avocados, yogurt, etc.
Although it is important for you to be healthy, do not do any strenuous forms of exercise such as running or weight training. Instead, go for a walk or meditate at home to relax your nerves and avoid any post-op complications.
Switch to a soft food diet for 2-3 weeks post-surgery
The implanted teeth are sensitive and prone to problems if you do not take preventive measures. One of the preventive measures is switching to a soft food diet. A soft food diet is not only easy on your stomach but prevents one to put excessive pressure on the operated teeth. Continue with a soft food diet for at least 2 weeks because it prevents any post-op complications.
The best foods for a soft food diet are avocadoes, yogurt, rice, mashed potatoes, soups, etc. Such a diet encourages speedy recovery and gives your teeth a rest.
Protect your teeth, wear a nightguard
Teeth grinding while sleeping or bruxism affects the dental health of many people. Many dental issues occur due to this habit such as cracks, gaps between teeth, etc. It is even more important to protect your teeth after implant surgery because your teeth are more sensitive.
Dentists recommend wearing a nightguard to protect your implants from cracking or causing gum infection. Do not forget to discuss this with your dentist so they can prepare a nightguard for you. Dentists prepare a personalized nightguard to help you sleep better and for your teeth to function better.
Post-surgery dental evaluation
Unfortunately, we do not realize the importance of dental health until it’s too late. Oral health is a crucial part of our lives and let’s not forget it affects our overall health. According to research, bad oral health leads to digestive issues as well as other serious issues such as diabetes.
For a smooth recovery process, a dental evaluation after 2 weeks is crucial. During this visit, your dentist will thoroughly check your implants and report on their condition. Communicating your concerns and doubts to your dentist makes the process a lot smoother.
Plan in advance for a smooth dental implant aftercare process
Planning ahead of time always works and allows one to be more organized. For a smooth aftercare process, it is important to know what you are getting into. Schedule an appointment with your dentist before the surgery to discuss the queries and concerns you have. Some of the common concerns people have are:
- Will the patient need anesthesia?
- Transportation plan after the surgery if the patient receives local anesthesia
- Should they go to work immediately after the surgery
- The management of food on the day of the surgery
The answer to these concerns depends on the patient’s personal preferences. For an implant procedure, dentists usually sedate via local anesthesia either intravenously or by mouth to calm their nerves. Either way, discussing anesthesia with your dentist before the surgery is a much better idea. There is no need for general anesthesia during the procedure.
Local anesthesia can make you feel groggy and drowsy so you need a transportation plan after the surgery. Ask a friend or family member to transport you back home safely without much hassle. Your diet must be soft as well as nutritious so that you recover fast.
Another question patients ask is if they can go back to work immediately. The answer depends on your personal preference; we recommend resting for at least a day before going back to work. It helps one to manage things better and to get familiar with the changes.
What to avoid for the aftercare of dental implants?
Here are things to avoid in the aftercare process for the protection of your new implants:
- Don’t touch the implant at least for the first 2 weeks
- Do not indulge in hard and chewy foods
- Stay away from strenuous forms of exercise
- Do not rinse your mouth in the 24 hours after surgery
- Do not brush or floss harshly
- Don’t have alcohol or fizzy drinks for at least 2 weeks
- Do not or at least limit smoking
- Do not touch the implant at least for the first 2 weeks
The first 24 hours after the surgery are very crucial and so extra caution is necessary. Do not touch or poke the surgical site because it can cause more bleeding. Other complications such as gum infection are possible if you keep touching the surgical site. Moreover, it affects the recovery process and increases the chances of unwanted post-op complications. Therefore, we recommend you leave the surgical area alone for at least 24-48 hours for faster recovery.
Do not indulge in hard and chewy foods
Protection of your implants is the primary goal after the surgery so take every necessary step for it. Your diet makes a huge difference in applying less pressure on the implants while chewing. Since the implant area is sensitive, one must not consume hard or chewy foods. Chances of excessive bleeding are eliminated with soft foods such as oatmeal, mashed potatoes, yogurt, rice, apple puree, etc.
Stay away from strenuous forms of exercise
After the surgery, dentists advise against strenuous forms of exercise. It tends to put excessive pressure on the implant area which causes more bleeding than normal. That hinders the recovery process and takes more time for the implant to heal. That’s of course the last thing you want because you want to go back to your normal eating habits. Instead, opt for milder forms of exercise such as walking.
Do not rinse your mouth excessively in the 24 hours after surgery
While cleaning the implant area is necessary, do not attempt to do anything drastic in the first 24 hours. Bleeding is expected but it is better to bite down on a gauze rather than rinse the mouth a lot. The idea is to just practice safety in the first few hours so the implants settle safely. If you must rinse, discuss the situation with your dentist to proceed safely.
Do not brush or floss harshly
Practicing oral hygiene is necessary but harsh movements pose the risk of damaging your implants. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and if you want you can floss but with gentle movements. Having said that we advise you to leave the implant site alone for at least 24 hours. Therefore, it is better that you start with your dental care after the 24 hours are over.
Do not have alcohol or fizzy drinks for at least 2 weeks
We know they are tempting, alcoholic, and fizzy sugary drinks but steer clear from them at least for a week. They not only pose the risk of staining but also slow down the healing process. Also, they increase the chances of decay and infection. Therefore, we suggest you not consume sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages at least till your implants fully settle and heal.
Do not or at least limit smoking
Smoking not only impacts your overall health but also your oral health. Your oral health suffers greatly if you are a chain smoker. The first week after the surgery is crucial and we advise you to exercise caution. That includes staying away from smoking for at least the first week after the surgery. If you are a chain smoker, try to limit your smoking as much as you can because it can affect the active sutures. Smoking dehydrates your mouth and that elevates the chances of infections and other complications. Sucking while smoking can put negative pressure and may cause more bleeding.
Similarly, do not use a straw to drink because it puts pressure on the implants and may damage them.
FAQs on dental implant aftercare
Here are the common queries we receive from our readers. Let’s start with some easy-to-answer brief answers.
How much pain to expect after dental implants?
The pain differs from person to person depending on their threshold as well as the dental situation. If the damage is severe and they need more implants than one, a bit of pain and discomfort is possible. In the case of post-op complications, mild pain is possible and in that case, dentists prescribe painkillers. However, if the situation worsens with time, visit your dentist right away.
What about the stitches around the implant?
The stitches around the implant are dissolvable and it takes around 2-3 weeks for them to dissolve. If you see the stitches disappear a little more every day, it means your implants are healing fast. Caution during the first week after the surgery is necessary so that there are no complications involving the stitches. For example, do not consume hard foods during the healing period that may irritate the stitches.
Can I wear my dentures after the surgery?
Anything that touches the surface of your implants poses a risk of damaging them. Similarly, if you wear partial or full dentures, you should discontinue their use for at least the first two to three days. Many dentists even recommend discontinuing their use for at least a week. The idea is to protect your implants and let them heal at their own pace.
How to clean dental implants after surgery
Ideally, you leave your dental implants alone at least for the first 24 hrs. After a day, you can resume the cleaning of the operated site. However, try to be as gentle as possible with your brushing and flossing. If it is possible just gently rinse your mouth to clean the area. Also, you can use wet cotton to gently clean the area without touching it too much.
Can you eat normally after dental implant surgery?
The first few days after the surgery require patience and adaptability. Dentists ask patients to switch to a soft-food diet to avoid excessive pressure while biting. You can resume normal eating but caution is necessary because your implants are in the healing phase. For more advice, reach out to your dentist.
Should I take off from work after the surgery?
Generally taking a day off from work is not necessary but it is better to be in a relaxed state of mind. It allows you to recover faster and adapt to the situation better. Therefore, it is up to you, or for more guidance, ask your dentist.
Gross D, Gross K, Schmidt M. Ethical dilemmas of dental implantology: Ready for aftercare?. Quintessence Int. 2018;49(5):367-375.