Of all tooth replacement options, dental implants tend to offer the most advantages in terms of strength, stability, and preservation of bone tissue. For this reason, they are often the first recommendation for patients experiencing tooth loss. Before patients can fully benefit from newly installed implants, however, they must undergo a successful recovery. While implant surgery is not particularly risky and most of the healing process goes unnoticed by patients, the initial days and weeks will likely be accompanied by a few side effects.
By understanding what to expect after dental implants and oral surgery in general, patients can aptly prepare for their recovery. Moreover, by knowing how to deal with any post-surgical side effects, patients increase their chances of having a successful, uncomplicated procedure.
Side Effects of Surgery
After undergoing dental implant surgery at our Edmonton practice, you should plan to rest for at least the remainder of the day. In the first few hours of recovery, you may notice light bleeding from your gums, where the implants have been installed. Applying gentle pressure to the area with a gauze pad should stop the bleeding, which should cease altogether by the end of the day.
Over the following days, you will develop a few side effects that are common of oral surgery, including:
- Pain: Patients are often surprised at how little pain they have after implant surgery, but this should not dissuade anyone from taking their recommended pain medication. Prescription painkillers should be utilized for at least the beginning of recovery, when discomfort will be greatest. Afterward, over-the-counter medication should suffice until gum and bone tissues no longer ache.
- Bruising: Patients will likely experience some bruising of the jaw, which will develop early on and fade over the course of the first week.
- Swelling: The gums, cheeks, and jaw may become swollen over the first couple of days, especially around the areas where implants are installed. This will gradually recede over time, especially if an ice pack is applied to the area within the first 24 to 48 hours, for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
Possible Risks of Surgery
Dental implants have a high rate of long-term success, ranging from 90 to 98 percent, but complications are possible. Following implant surgery, patients should primarily keep an eye out for infection and inflammation, which can result in implant failure. Typically, infection is caused by the growth of bacteria between the implant and gum tissue, causing an inability to properly heal. In order to avoid inflammation and the risk of implant failure, take the following precautions:
- Consult a dentist or surgeon with plenty of dental implant experience, who comes with strong recommendations and credentials.
- Maintain excellent hygiene throughout recovery, brushing and gently flossing as you normally should.
- Abstain from alcohol and tobacco use prior to and following implant surgery.
- Take any antibiotics given by your dentist, even if inflammation is not immediately present.
- Speak with your dentist if you have a habit of grinding your teeth at night, as this may increase the chance of implant failure.
Long-term Effects during Recovery
After the first week or two of recovery, the side effects and risks of surgery will be greatly reduced. At this point, your implants will barely warrant any attention outside of eating and hygiene. Nevertheless, it takes months for implants to integrate with surrounding bone tissue, and as a result, you should take any precautions necessary to ensure a full recovery. This primarily applies to eating habits, as chewing, biting, and diet can all impact the rate at which you heal.
First, remember to chew away from your implants to keep pressure off of them. This is particularly important during the first weeks of recovery, but should also be observed whenever possible in the ensuing months.
Also, consider which foods will be least intrusive during the first week of healing. Any hard, crunchy, or chewy foods will push or pull on implants, disrupting their placement within bone and gum tissue. Try to maintain a soft food diet early on, gradually working your way up to a wider range of foods as implants become more firmly rooted in the mouth.
Ultimately, your dentist will be able to tell you when implant integration is complete and permanent restorations can be cemented on. With the right care throughout your recovery, you can enjoy the long-term benefits of a strong bite and full smile.
Contact Our Dental Office
If you have any questions about dental implants or our other restorative dentistry services, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.