Post-Operative Instructions: Dental Implants
You have just completed the first step of your implant treatment. If you look inside your mouth, you may be able to see the implant. The implant does require a clean environment to heal properly. Proper care of your mouth will aid in the healing process and reduce the possibility of complications. The following instructions will assist you in this healing process.
Avoid strenuous physical activity for the first 48–72 hours following the procedure. Usually, the fewer implants placed, the sooner you will feel comfortable returning to the normal activities.
Start the prescribed medication immediately. You may have some discomfort after the procedure. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines (Advil®, Aleve®, or ibuprofen) are often helpful in controlling this type of discomfort. You may supplement the anti-inflammatory medication with pain medication if needed.
The pain medication prescribed for you may cause drowsiness and impair your ability to drive and perform delicate tasks. You do not have to take or finish the pain medication. We may also prescribe an antibiotic. Unlike the pain medication, it is important that you finish this medication unless otherwise directed.
You may experience some swelling and/or bruising following the procedure, which usually reaches a peak 2–3 days later. Ice packs will reduce the swelling and/or bruising. Apply ice to the cheek area for a maximum of 15 minutes at a time with a 15-minute break. After 48 hours, gentle heat is more beneficial. Sleeping with your head propped up slightly may also help.
We would like you to eat soft, nutritious foods. Care should be taken to avoid hard or crunchy foods that might cause trauma to the implant area. Gently rinse with warm water after every meal.
Some minor bleeding after surgery is common. We suggest that you bite on the gauze packing in your mouth for at least 20–30 minutes. If you notice bleeding from the area after the first 30 minutes, place another gauze pad over the area. Some oozing may occur for a few days after surgery. If implants are placed in the upper jaw, you may experience a nosebleed within the first few days after surgery.
Avoid smoking for at least 2 weeks following surgery. Smoking has been shown to affect the healing process negatively.
Stitches will dissolve in 5–7 days and typically do not require removal. Do not worry about the stitches if they start to come out earlier.
Important times to clean are after breakfast and before you go to bed at night. Rinsing is very helpful in keeping your mouth clean. Start rinses the day after surgery. The prescribed mouthwash should be used twice daily — after breakfast and before bed. Be sure to rinse for at least 30 seconds, then spit it out. Warm saltwater rinses (a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water) should be used at least 4–5 times a day, as well, especially after meals.
You should also start brushing your other teeth as normal 24 hours after surgery. Avoid flossing or the use of a Waterpik® to the surgical site for the first 2 weeks.
Wearing your prosthesis
Partial dentures, flippers, or full dentures should be used immediately after surgery unless otherwise directed by your doctor. However, wear them with caution. Remember, do not apply undue pressure over the implant surgical site. Excessive pressure can affect the success of your implant.
Long-term dental implant care
To maintain a successful implant, it will require a significant commitment to your oral hygiene practices. A daily program of oral care must be established and maintained in conjunction with your dentist and hygiene visit. Attend professional cleaning appointments every 3–6 months.
Proper aftercare of your dental implants is important for maintaining them for a lifetime without problems. Dental implants require the same care as real teeth, including brushing, flossing, and regular checkups.
Flossing should be done around the implant at least once a day. If you have an irrigation system, you may irrigate each implant on low speed (1.5 water to 2 caps of Listerine®). This method of cleaning is very effective in removing plaque that may form under the gums. Please discuss your irrigation system with your dentist or hygienist before using it with your implant.
If you are wearing your prosthesis, these should be left out at night or at least several hours during each day.
The restoration piece on top of the dental implant is not as strong as natural teeth. Avoid applying excessive pressure or eating hard foods to prevent breaking the restoration and/or irritating the implant area.
Should you notice any swelling, redness, or discomfort in the area of the implant after the healing phase, please notify the office. Your patience and self-care will help make your dental implant successful. If you have any questions or unusual problems, please call the office where you had your implant(s) placed.