In my last post, I discussed some of the steps patients can take to help the healing process after dental implant surgery. Today, I’m going to break down some of the more important steps directly outlined in the aftercare documentation that I provide to all of my dental implant patients.
Because aftercare begins as soon as the surgery is completed, let’s start by taking a look at what you can expect immediately after your dental implant surgery.
What to Expect After Dental Implant Surgery
As I mentioned last week, most patients report feeling less discomfort than they expected following their dental implant surgery.
That’s not to say that dental implant surgery is painless – it isn’t – but the pain shouldn’t be any worse than what you’d feel after a crown. In fact, the way your body reacts to the implant surgery, and the levels of pain you’ll experience, are similar to what you’d feel after any oral surgery.
Immediately after your dental implant procedure, you should expect:
- Swelling of the gums and face, which peaks at 48 hours, and diminishes thereafter
- Discomfort in the period immediately after sensation returns to your mouth
- Bleeding or “oozing” for the first 24-36 hours
After Dental Implant Surgery: What Does Aftercare Look Like?
The swelling, discomfort, and bleeding / oozing you experience after your dental implant procedure are all perfectly normal reactions to any oral surgery – and they’re totally manageable.
In the aftercare instructions I give to my patients, I outline several things to help manage the above-mentioned symptoms and speed up the healing process.
Here are a few you should know about.
- Swelling: The amount of swelling you experience really depends on the type of surgery you receive, including whether you get one or multiple implants. But no matter what kind of swelling you experience, the best way to minimize it is with the immediate placement of ice packs on the face / over the surgical site. Instructions: Apply an ice pack for 30 minutes, then remove for 30 minutes. Repeat for 24 hours.
- Discomfort: Most of the pain you experience following your procedure requires little more than over-the-counter medication, but some patients are prescribed additional medication. I’ll provide you with a medication schedule based on your medical history. It will likely include simple analgesics typically used for headaches or aches and sprains. Instructions: Take all medications as directed to control pain and prevent infection.
- Bleeding or oozing: Expect mild bleeding or oozing from the surgical area for 23-36 hours. Instructions: Immediately after your procedure, bite down on the gauze in your mouth for 3 hours. If the gauze becomes saturated due to heavier bleeding, remove it and replace with dampened gauze, holding it in place for 20 minutes so no blood escapes. Repeat this process several times. If bleeding persists, you can also try using a teabag. Keep your head elevated for the first 24 hours.
Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?
And don’t worry, I won’t spring any surprises on you. Other than the aftercare symptoms listed above, you only need to keep a few of other things in mind.
- Diet. You’ll need to follow a liquid diet for the first 24 hours following your surgery, so aim for a healthy 2 quarts of fluid through soups, juices, and water. You should be able to take fluids within an hour of your surgery.
- Rinsing. While you can take all the liquids you need, just avoid rinsing your mouth on the day of surgery. After the first 24 hours are up, you can rinse with warm salt water (1 tsp. salt in 8 oz. of water) after meals.
- Cleaning. After 24 hours, you can begin cleaning the affected area. You can use any manual or automatic soft-bristled toothbrush – simply brush at an angle to clean around the implant. You’ll also be able to gently use other devices including Waterpik, sulcabrushes and end-tuft brushes, and rubber tip stimulators. (Just make sure all tools are nylon-coated to present scratching your implant). You can also begin to floss around the exposed part of the implant – for multi-unit implants, you’ll be given a specialized floss.
After Dental Implant Surgery: What to Avoid
The aftercare instructions are simple, easy to follow, and help the healing process.
However, there are some things you should avoid (if you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed, this will all sound familiar) immediately after dental implant surgery: no smoking, spitting, drinking through a straw, or doing any strenuous activity for the first 24 hours.
I want patients to feel comfortable and relaxed before, during, and after any procedure.
My hope is that this overview of the aftercare instructions helps ease any worries or anxiety you may be feeling about getting dental implants.
If you want to find out more about dental implants, proper aftercare, or anything else, we’re here to help. Feel free to call our office today and schedule a consultation.
You can also find out more by attending our free Patient Implant Seminar on Thursday, November 17th from 6pm – 8pm. I’ll be answering your questions and helping you learn everything you ever wanted to know about dental implants!