Your surgeon has given you the thumbs-up; your surgery is over and everything went well. And now, instead of dealing with painful and inconvenient complications that come with dental implants, you’re going to have a natural-looking smile that will boost your confidence levels and make you feel good again. By this point, you’ve likely had several consultations with your dentist, he or she has prepared you for the surgery, and you’re now ready to recover from this restorative procedure.
To maximize the results of your surgery and recover as comfortably as possible, make sure you heed your dentist’s advice and keep the following tips in mind.
Controlling the Bleeding
Once the surgery is complete, you’ll want to have your designated person drive you home right away so you can start relaxing in a comfortable setting. During the first hour after surgery, you’ll probably feel a bit numb, groggy, and not quite yourself, but this will pass. You may also experience some localized pain and pressure on or near the implant site, but this is normal. Your dentist will have fit you with gauze packs to control the bleeding at the implant site, so continue to gently bite down on these bundles of gauze for the first hour after surgery.
Once the hour is up, you can gently remove the gauze and check on any potential bleeding from the surgical site. If it is still bleeding a bit, feel free to replace the gauze with a fresh new piece, loosely wrapped, fluffed up, and moistened with a few drops of cool water. Change the gauze every half hour until the bleeding stops.
Have your driver stop at the pharmacist to fill your pain medication prescription first. Or, try to fill it a day ahead of time, if possible. You’ll likely still feel some level of comfort from the anesthesia administered during your procedure (it takes some time to wear off completely after the surgery), but taking pain medication prior to it wearing off will help you more easily manage your level of discomfort post-procedure.
It pays to understand the side effects of the prescribed medication. Ask yourself, do you normally feel nauseous if you take too much of a certain medication? Or, do you react adversely if you take specific meds on an empty stomach? If so, plan ahead and try to have something on your approved-to-eat list handy. You will likely feel the most pain in the 6-8 hours after your surgery, so keep in mind that the pain will probably subside dramatically during the first day post-surgery.
Also, remember the amount of pain medication you’re given must take into effect your specific pain management requirements. Your ability to refill the prescription if you need more is another important consideration. This is especially crucial if you’re having surgery right before a weekend and the oral surgeon may not be available to authorize additional medication.
Try to limit any overly hot or extremely cold foods, as the surgical site will be sensitive and can trigger bleeding. If you can stick to soft or liquid foods the first couple of days, it is advisable. Stay away from foods that contain small particles that may get lodged in the surgical site. Foods like rice, corn, small seeds, popcorn, nuts, and the like are easy to eat, nourishing, and are soft enough so they won’t hurt, but they are notorious for getting stuck in the little nooks and crannies in the mouth. Ask your oral surgeon to provide a list of foods you can and can’t eat for the first few days following your surgery.
The important thing to remember is your body still needs regular food intake, and any pain medication you might be taking won’t trigger as much nausea if taken on a full stomach. Simply eat foods that don’t hurt you while eating, then progressively add more challenging foods as your surgical site heals. After a couple of days, you’ll be able to eat like normal again.
Brushing Your Teeth
As soon as possible, get right back into good oral hygiene routines to keep your mouth as healthy as possible. Clean your teeth but do not do anything that causes significant pain. Focus on keeping as clean an environment as possible in the area right next to the implant site. A mouth rinse can help, but wait a few hours after the surgery to rinse. Also, don’t use anything with alcohol in it, as it can dry out the site and may be too harsh this soon after the procedure. Instead, simply dilute a quarter teaspoon of normal table salt into an 8-oz. glass of warm (not hot) water. Rinse slowly, taking a full 4-5 minutes to work through the glass of water, then repeat at least 2-3 times per day.
Common Side Effects of Dental Implant Surgery
The first few days after the implant surgery will be all about pain management, eating appropriate foods, and transitioning back into your normal routine, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see any side effects from the surgery. Here are some of the more prevalent side effects dental implants patients see:
- Sore Throat
Muscles often swell after surgery, and the mouth is no exception. Swallowing may be more difficult, but this will go away in a few days. If not, see your dentist.
It isn’t uncommon for the local area to become bruised or discolored due to physical stress from the surgery. It might take a few days to appear so don’t be alarmed if bruises show up 2-3 days out.
- Stiff Jaw
You may not be able to open your mouth entirely after the surgery, which is normal. If it doesn’t resolve itself within 4-5 days after the surgery, contact your oral surgeon.
Dental implant surgery is one of the smartest moves you can make if you have one or more missing or damaged teeth, and the recovery time is quite brief. Partner with your dental professional today to fully understand the pre- and post-operative steps you should take to minimize discomfort and maximize the results of this highly effective surgical option.